Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga has convened a blue-ribbon panel that will spend the next eight months charting the future of the arts for the Chattanooga and Hamilton County region.
"Everything is on the table, and this is a far-reaching look at how things are done and how they might be done," said Allied Arts President Dan Bowers. "Our role at Allied Arts, for example, may change dramatically. Everything is up for discussion."
Chairmen of the Cultural Plan 2011 committee of 43 area leaders are Ruth Holmberg and Tom White, with Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield and Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger serving as honorary co-chairmen.
Allied Arts is serving as the starter for the process with more than $200,000 in funding coming from a variety of grants.
Tom Wolf with WolfBrown, a Massachusetts-based consulting firm that specializes in working with arts organizations, has been hired as the lead consultant for Cultural Plan 2011.
Last year, Wolf completed an analysis of Allied Arts and its 14 funded agencies through a grant from the Kresge Foundation. The study focused on capacity-building and sustainability.
He said he has no preconception of what will come out of the process but said he it "is an exciting time in Chattanooga and the region."
"The thing that knocks my socks off is, you look at the population of Chattanooga and the county and the region, and you do some [comparisons] on the Internet and Chattanooga has a pretty high profile nationally," he said.
"You look at some of the cities that are comparable, and it is just astonishing how this little town has national cachet, and that is a tremendously strong asset on which to build," he said.
"On the other hand, you need the resources, both human and financial, to leverage that. You look at the leadership on this steering committee, and the human part of it is pretty strong."
Wolf's resume includes more than 20 community cultural plans done across the country. He said he focuses on three core areas: Exploring the strategic placement of the arts to address community issues such as education, jobs, crime and environment; increasing efficiency and productivity of the local arts organizations; and expanding benefits of the arts to all areas of the community.
Through meetings and an interactive website, the public will have several opportunities to present ideas for what they would like to see, said Rodney Van Valkenburg, director of communications/arts education with Allied Arts.
The first opportunity will be March 29-31 when Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf, wife of Tom Wolf and a nationally recognized expert who works in arts education research with WolfBrown, will be here to meet with education leaders and members of the arts community.