Strategic Plan For The Fredericksburg Arts Commission
Table of Contents
- Internal Perspective
- External Perspective
- The Region
- Expected Growth
- Marketing Efforts
- Hospitals & Job Growth
- The Aging Population
- Strength of the Arts Community
The Fredericksburg Arts Commission (FAC) was established in response to an ever-growing need to organize the myriad of artists and arts facilities in the Fredericksburg region. Over the past few months the Planning Committee has discussed the Commission’s vision for the future; strengths, opportunities and challenges posed within and outside the organization; and goals for the next one, three, five and ten years. The plan described herein is reflective of these discussions. It sets a course for FAC development and identifies specific priorities. The planning process acknowledges that FAC exists in a dynamic political and economic environment. The most important aspect of the strategic plan is to create a framework within which FAC can evaluate progress and make course corrections over the next decade.
The Fredericksburg area has seen a steady period of artistic growth and expansion. For one example, LibertyTown Arts Workshop alone has in the last five years grown from a one-man pottery shop to a studio/gallery workspace for more than fifty artists and their students.
The FAC has a stated mission to “promote, support and expand the arts as an integral part of life for all people in the Fredericksburg area.” The committee has developed a vision statement and a set of values grounded in the mission of the commission. The vision statement provides a concrete image of the type of institution the FAC wishes to become. The values statement describes how a board and staff will carry out their duties to achieve this vision. Together, the mission, vision and values create a framework upon which the FAC can effectively make decisions and manage its development.
FAC has many advantages in addressing this mission. It has strong leadership from the City Council and a dedicated Board. Demographic trends in the Planning District 16, which includes the counties within a thirty-mile radius of the City, point to a significant change in the make up, age and motivation of new residents that will support the growth and diversity of the artistic community in the future. The area is growing and residential development and market segmentation data suggest that Planning District 16 is attracting a bifurcated audience that includes young singles and married people on the one end and retirees on the other. The FAC is well positioned to organize interesting, engaging and artistic programs for these audiences, but success will depend on understanding the specific needs of these audience segments and developing customized programming that serves these needs. FAC planning for arts and education will embrace the entire community of the City of Fredericksburg and her surrounding neighbors.
The FAC board of directors is dynamic, engaged and focused. The FAC consists of eleven members including appointed members from the City Council. Board members include individuals who have specific knowledge, interest or expertise in the arts. Board members have been appointed for specific terms. The board acknowledges that the long-term success of its mission ultimately requires paid staff assistance and public support for the arts. No city can expect to achieve a thriving arts community from the leadership of only a volunteer board.
Fredericksburg is located within a growing tourist area. With Washington, D.C., fifty miles to the North and Richmond fifty miles to the South, Fredericksburg lies between two powerful tourist markets. It also sits within the corridor of early American heritage from the colonial period through the Civil War that draws history enthusiasts from across the country and around the world. The 2007 Virginia Visitor Study Profile listed Fredericksburg within the top ten places (#7) that motivated trips to Virginia, including Colonial Williamsburg; Washington, DC; Richmond, beaches; mountains; scenic drives; and shopping malls. Of the 2,155 visitors surveyed who visited Fredericksburg, most were of Euro-American descent and over half were traveling as married couples with no children. Over 80% were repeat visitors to the region. This information is consistent with national trends that indicate that couples in their mid-fifties are one of the most significant and growing tourist markets. Highly educated and with disposable income and time, these couples travel by car, preferring to travel independently rather than with tour groups. They are drawn to places that offer distinctive environments, educational experiences, high quality amenities and unique artistic experiences.
Planning District 16 (The George Washington Region) includes the City of Fredericksburg and the Counties of Spotsylvania, Stafford, King George and Caroline. The projected population of this region in 2010 is in excess of 315,000. Projections indicate that the regional population will approximately double by 2035 from the current 315,000 to nearly 600,000 people. More than 83% of the population recognizes itself as Caucasian non-Hispanic with 14% African American and 3% other minorities. 80% have a high school education or higher. The median household income is $47,148 as of 2000.
In 1960, The George Washington area was essentially comprised of the relatively small City of Fredericksburg, some additional residential and town development, and the surrounding parks and farmland. Today, the region is characterized by a decentralized, suburban-type pattern of growth extending well outside of Fredericksburg and far into the adjacent counties.
The region’s rapid growth has created some opportunities and challenges. Opportunities include new jobs, more services, and prior to the current economic downturn, a significant increase in home values. Challenges include traffic congestion, automobile dependency, air pollution and other threats to the environment and quality of life.
Under the banner of “FREDERICKSBURG TIMELESS”, the City of Fredericksburg and the Counties of Stafford and Spotsylvania commissioned a 2004 marketing and advertising campaign. This region was featured in television advertising in Washington, D.C., print, electronic marketing and other broadcast media in the markets of Richmond, Baltimore and Philadelphia. It focused upon the region’s unparalleled collection of historic sites. That campaign is considered a success in that it generated a 72% increase in first time visitors, a three-fold increase in hotel and golf course revenue, and a 13% increase in group tours from the previous year.
The expansion of new hospital facilities has long been an indicator of the health, vitality and growth of an area due in part because a “certificate of need” must be obtained from the state before any such facility can be constructed. Mary Washington Hospital is the flagship facility of Medicorp Corporation, a 412-bed, full service hospital offering advanced services usually found in major cities. Over 300 area physicians and health professionals represent over 45 medical specialties. Medicorp has opened (2009) the Stafford Hospital Center which initially has 100 private inpatient rooms. It will operate with a staff of 350 and is expected to grow steadily. Another hospital center owned by HCA Corporation opened in Spotsylvania County in June, 2010. All three facilities are within approximately ten miles of each other. Spotsylvania regional Medical Center will operate initially with 126 beds and 400 health professionals comprising a payroll approaching $26 million.
Given that two such advanced facilities have opened within a year’s time, it is not unreasonable to surmise that the increase of almost 1,000 new jobs will bring thousands of family members to the area. Along with every other support service required for everyday living, arts and entertainment will be further supported and perhaps those new demands will require an appropriate response from the already diverse arts community.
In addition, Kalahari Resorts has announced plans for a $200 million dollar indoor water park/resort/event complex in the Celebrate Virginia tourism district of Fredericksburg, VA. Celebrate Virginia is a 2,400-acre residential and commercial development along Interstate 95, approximately 55 miles south of the nation’s capital. The property will become part of a build out plan to include America’s largest indoor water park at 200,000 square feet, immense conference and event space, and 900 African-themed guest rooms and suites. In addition, Kalahari Resort at Celebrate Virginia will feature a luxurious Spa Kalahari, a variety of dining, nightlife, and retail offerings, as well as have a projected visitation of over 1million guests annually. Estimates are that 3000 cars/day will enter the park. It is reasonable to conclude that this many people staying in the area who are on a holiday, will be looking to enhance their experience at other art/entertainment venues.
There is a growing amount of development planned in gated “retirement” communities that offer security, amenities and social activities for people over 55. High end condominiums in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania are attractive to both upwardly mobile singles and young couples as well. Time will tell how these projects progress in the coming years.
More people are moving to this area that represents a 30 mile radius around Fredericksburg. These people fall into a number of categories that include young professionals who may have tired of living in downtown Washington and are looking to simplify their lives and/or start families. This group may be looking for family oriented entertainment that provides them with a sense of place and a source of connection. There is also a growing number of seniors who are moving to the area. These people may be looking to contribute their time, energy, and support; and may be interested in participating in the performing arts. Furthermore, this group may be interested in thoughtful and thought provoking exhibitions.
Fredericksburg has many assets: history, beauty, size, and location. The city has also attracted a high number of artists, and boasts a high rate of participation in arts activities. These artists live and work in the city and contribute greatly to economic development, tourism, and the spirit of the city.
The general public supports the arts and enjoys the many concerts, exhibitions, and events throughout the year. In the future, Fredericksburg will see a growing demand for additional arts opportunities (especially for facilities), a greater diversity of arts and cultural offerings, and supportive elected officials.
The Mission of the Fredericksburg Arts Commission is to promote, support and expand the arts as an integral part of life for all people in the Fredericksburg area. The Commission advises the City on policy and program development, oversees the grants and public arts programs, advocates for the arts and acts as liaison between the arts community and the City.
FAC’s vision is to serve as a valuable resource for all things arts-related in our community. To build this resource, we provide services with and for artists, arts organizations, and arts educators, and advocate on behalf of arts interest to local and state governments.
Fredericksburg Arts Commission:
- Fosters artistic growth in the region by providing information resources, hosting celebratory arts events, and co-sponsoring community cultural events and projects.
- Advocates for the arts by creating a unified voice for encouragement of arts support at local, state, and national levels and by drawing connections between the arts and the community.
- Coordinates programs for partnership that educate citizens about the arts, increases access to the arts, and provide forums that address art-related issues in our community.
Priority 1: Promote arts activities in Fredericksburg
The FAC will:
- Establish a website that allows FAC to communicate with the public and area arts organizations and that would provide valuable links to arts-related resources
- Sponsor or promote visible multi-discipline arts festivals or performing opportunities
- Create annual public art project
- Branding/Establishing an identity of the new Arts & Cultural District by, for example: (1) developing streetscape/signage, and (2) naming the district
- Identify and collect data pertaining to the Arts and economic development impact in the city and the arts district. Identify arts and cultural organizations that make up district or who have a stake in the district. Gather information relevant to physical properties of district, and determine what incentives they are eligible for. Are they eligible for Historic district incentives in addition to this ordinance? What are costs associated with Arts development in city vs. arts production? What production offerings does district currently have in place? What development offerings and what is their financial status? What do the arts bring to Fredericksburg, financially?
- Identify and promote development opportunities for artists in the city (e.g. artist incubators, staff development, business workshops, marketing plans, mentorships, internships with UMW or other)
- Identify and promote artistic production opportunities in the city (e.g. are all available spaces being utilized for performing arts? For visual arts? How can these spaces be developed for better artistic use? Can existing spaces be modified or enhanced to better promote artistic production? How can Fredericksburg achieve a balance between artistic development and production?
Priority 2: Generate Funding for Artists and Art Programs
The FAC will:
- Establish a Grants Committee to oversee arts-related grants
- Partner with the EDA in their JumpstART! program to facilitate grants
- Serve as a hub for both state and city grants relating to the arts
- Provide educational opportunities to assist artists with their own fundraising and development
- Generate commission opportunities for artists such as public art
- Increase public and private investment in the arts
- Advocate for a percent for the Arts program in Fredericksburg
- Encourage UMW funding for city performances and/or city art projects
Priority 3: Increase participation in the arts
- Partner with UMW to increase their visibility in the arts community
- Help to establish UMW as a major supporter of the arts in the city
- Encourage education in the arts at all levels
- Form partnerships with arts leaders
- Support and facilitate the development of performing arts venues in the city and specifically within the Art & Cultural District.
- FAC will be a visible presence in the arts community and the public
Priority 4: Advises city council & city on policy that support the arts
- Defining art in our culture. Establish vision that works for our city. Communicate the importance of the arts to officials.
- Create open communication with city staff, EDA, and council on arts initiatives
- Justifying the need for quality arts in a city
- How to justify spending for the arts
- Arts & Cultural District-what can the city do to help establish the district as a viable and thriving cultural destination? What resources can they bring to bear on its behalf?
- Percent for the arts-working to establish a permanent public funding stream for the arts in Frederickburg
- Performing arts venues- what can the city do to help the cause? What can the FAC do to help?
- Public art-utilizing support from city departments and staff to identify suitable locations and place quality artwork in public places
Priority 5: Supportive Organizational Structure
- Advocate for paid staff position to act as manager of Arts & Cultural District, who would develop and promote activities in the district
- Ensure that all available resources are directed toward organizational efficiency
- Identify and advocate for State Legislation that assists artists-research precedents, and elicit support from State agencies (VA Commission on the Arts) to identify areas in which the state can assist
- Create links between primary arts organizations in the region, including UMW
Priority 6: Promote cohesiveness amongst arts community
- Open communications with and amongst artists, arts-related businesses, and the city to identify needs and wants
- Help to create and communicate a vision through open dialogues and discussion with arts leaders, business leaders, and political leaders
- Develop social interaction opportunities for arts groups in Fredericksburg
- Create workshop or guest lecturer opportunities for artists
- Assist in the development of a comprehensive vision for the Arts in Fredericksburg
- Encourage UMW’s participation in city arts