Arts & Cultural Activities
The plan envisions downtown as being the hub of regional arts and cultural activities. Rather than an arts center, the plan promotes an arts community with numerous offerings intermingled among other downtown uses and downtown neighborhoods. Downtown is multi-cultural and this characteristic is an asset which must be nurtured.
Downtown will be a place where people will:
- Celebrate important events
- Exchange views and ideas
The arts and cultural activities at present are limited to very passive ones. The existing facilities fail to generate any significant activity on Main Street or in the downtown. This is partly because these uses are in scattered locations and are not inter-linked in any way.
Further, the downtown lacks a central place or a plaza where people could congregate for cultural events. Lack of a convenient link to the riverfront from the downtown prevents the riverfront from being used actively. Inactivity on the riverfront is furthered by a lack of public events.
The potential to establish downtown and the riverfront as a focus of public activity remains uncapitalized. Location of governmental and other offices and institutional uses in the downtown are an asset because they bring people to downtown. An exciting and stimulating environment with opportunities for arts and cultural activities and active and passive recreation will ensure that the visitors to downtown have greater reasons to come to downtown.
The plan proposes to strengthen and reinforce the character of downtown as an arts and cultural center of the city and region by proposing more diverse arts and cultural uses and recreational events all year round. The plan promotes the creation of a plaza, carefully designed to meet the technical needs of a performance space, for sculpture, gardens, exhibitions and performances.
The plan acknowledges the need to involve the City’s Arts and Cultural Commission, Wesleyan University, Oddfellows Playhouse, the Buttonwood Tree and others in the activities of Downtown. The plaza would serve as a common platform for these groups, city residents and visitors to interact. The plan also stresses the need for the existing cultural organizations to undertake out-reach efforts and plan more special events that would encourage activity in downtown.
Co-existence of retail and business activities with arts and cultural attractions will enhance the Downtown’s competitive edge over antiseptic suburban malls. The influx of downtown retailers will have the extra benefit of drawing customers who are in downtown for other purposes.