Putting Arts to Work for Downtown

Large and small communities alike are saying the same thing:

Arts and culture are critical tools for revitalizing central business districts. Resources such as libraries, museums, parks, cultural centers and performing arts, strengthen human, economic, physical and social improvement.

What exactly do arts and cultural resources have to offer individuals and communities? These resources can foster understanding, build employment and life skills, rekindle pride and belief in a community. Arts and culture address the "basics" such as self-esteem and the power to influence one's surroundings. They can be used to alter the image of a physical area, and provide a common meeting ground. These programs stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and build job skills. And because the arts define our society and its diversity, they are central in binding and mending the social fabric of our communities - and thus a perfect match for local Main Street revitalization initiatives.

Arts and culture are being redefined, not as frills or luxuries, but as essential and useful agents for invigoration and restoring character to our downtown cores, and small towns. This new definition demands an active role by local community arts and cultural groups in the revitalization activities taking place in America's downtowns.

Downtown Sheridan is fortunate in that we have within walking distance of each other, the Library, the WYO Theatre, King's Museum, Centennial Theater, and several art galleries. We have many bronze sculptures on Grinnell Plaza and throughout downtown. There is also a student created mural on Carroll' s Furniture Warehouse at Brooks Street.

It is evident that the Arts play an important role in creating that special. sense of place within our Historic Down town.

In 1992 when a group of citizens interested in participating in the Downtown Master Plan met at a town meeting held at the Historic Sheridan Inn, it was suggested that Grinnell Street be the location of street fairs and public art. In 2001, the Grinnell Plaza project, which was funded with private donations, grant monies and City monies, made that dream a reality. The next step towards completing that dream was the addition of public art.

In 2001, then Mayor Jim Wilson formed a public arts committee with a specific mission to promote and select works of art for Grinnell Plaza and other areas of the City.
After City Council approval of written guidelines, the order of business for the the Public Arts Committee was to request proposals from artists nationwide. Forty-eight artists submitted sixty sculptures for consideration. After a careful reviewing process, the committee selected eight sculptures which would be appropriate for Grinnell Plaza and other areas in Sheridan. In addition to funding from the City of Sheridan's 1% optional sales tax, the Arts Committee continuously seeks funding from individuals or organizations to fund additional pieces. Sheridan now has 59 permanent pieces of art and continues to display pieces that are on loan. All on loan pieces are available for purchase.