By John McLoone
The Hastings Arts Task Force is asking the Hastings City Council to establish and fund an Arts and Culture Commission.
The plan is for the com _ mission to have one city staff liaison, and a request was made to the city to pay that existing staff member a $5,000 stipend. That position could also be filled by an in _
dependent contractor, Hast _ ings Arts Task Force Chair Barb Hollenbeck told the city council Monday night.
The Arts Task Force pro _ posed funding for the Arts and Culture Commission at a level of one percent of the city’s annual capital improve _ ment plan for “the pursuit of artistic and cultural endeav _ ors,” Hollenbeck said.
“The Commission would advise the City Council on matters of policy and on is _ sues and initiatives pertaining to artistic and cultural activi _
ties in the city. The Commis _ sion will advocate for arts and culture in Hastings and will work to ensure an inclusive and cross _ cultural environ _
ment for all residents,” ac _ cording to Hollenbeck.
“We came out with some really fabulous ideas, and we hope the city council will adopt them,” said Hollen _ beck.
She said the efforts will help “build the Hastings brand.”
Some tangible ideas were to put QR codes on memorial benches around the city that would link to the story of the person the bench memorial _ izes. Also, a building mural program would be developed. Hollenbeck also noted that the former “blue bridge” stored by the river could be utilized.
“We have a really robust work plan. There’s some cool things in there,” she said.
City council members sup _ ported the Arts and Culture Commission but had ques _
tions on the staffing and fund _ ing.
“My question is how do we make it work?” asked councilmember Lisa Leifeld, who noted the city already has a very tight budget going forward.
Said councilmember Mark Vaughan, “I’m all about get _ ting it up and running. Let’s get this started and hash out the details,” he said. “I’m not ready to support a dedicated funding source.”
On the staffing side, ad _ ministrator Dan Wietecha commented, “I do not see staff available to take on something. Most of my staff and departments are maxed out. Most of our departments are asking for more staff, not more projects.”
The council moved to send the commission concept to the council planning commit _
The purpose of the com _
mission was described as as _ sisting “Hastings in becoming a community in which arts and cultural activities “Are recognized as vital compo _ nents of community life that are worthy of investment and support from the public, pri _
vate and non _ profit sectors, a charter of the organization states.
In addition, the organiza _ tion will include existing Hastings arts groups and sup _ port art education for young people. Skills of retirees and senior citizens will be uti _ lized.
The commission will be advisory to the common council. The charter states its responsibilities as:
•Develop, update, and rec _ ommend to the council a city mission, public agenda and strategic plan for arts and cul _ ture in Hastings;
•Provide leadership for completing the City’s Com _
prehensive Plan sections re _ garding arts and culture goals and planning, and provide on _ going input for plan revisions.
•Leverage individual, cor _ porate, foundation and city funding for arts and cultural activities including assisting with the identification and submission of grant opportu _ nities.
•Facilitate collaboration and joint planning among public and private agencies involved with related issues such as economic develop _
ment, tourism, and arts educa _ tion.
•Advise in the planning, acquisition and/or develop _ ment of land and facilities by the city as needed to support Hastings’ arts and cultural ac _
tivities and organizations.
•In cooperation with exist _ ing city departments and with the city council, develop and advocate design standards for city facilities, roadways, pub _
lic areas, and private develop _ ment, in order to advance a coherent image of Hastings as a place of unique aesthetic, architectural, and cultural identity.
•Plan and advocate fund _ ing in support of the creation and installation of public art in Hastings that enhances the city's appearance and artistic appeal.
Membership of the com _ mission will be comprised of up to seven volunteers with one youth voting member. Members will be nominated and approved by the City Council. They will serve three _ year terms and will be comprised of arts and cultural organizations, local schools, the business community, in _ dependent artists and the community at large.
mission. She is joined by members of the Hastings Arts Task Force which met twice _ monthly for the last several months to plan the proposed commission. _____________________