New arts initiative launched along Route 8 corridor cities
Several area agencies are working together to launch a new arts initiative that they hope will place the regional art scene on a larger scale.
The HUB Arts on 8 initiative is a regional response to a statewide arts renaissance movement. The idea is to mirror other successful art trails in the region, such as the Pennsylvania Wilds and the PA Route 6 artisan trails.
“The whole initiative is to create an art trail from Franklin to Titusville,” said Lynn Cochran, executive director of the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Pennsylvania Wilds artisan trail is a 12-county trail that runs through Clarion and Forest counties, while the PA Route 6 trail includes Erie, Crawford and Warren counties.
“(HUB Arts on 8) is kind of unique because Franklin, Oil City and Titusville are all three cities along Route 8, and they all have different kinds of art movements,” said Suzanne Gagliardo, community development manager of the Northwest Commission. “Here we are in the middle of all (the other art trails) and they kind of touch us, but they don’t embrace our three communities. So we came up with this concept of The HUB, to use it as a jumping off point.”
Betty Squire and John Phillips, of the Oil Region Alliance; Susan Williams of the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce; Joanna Wheeler, of the Oil City Arts Council; Gagliardo, Cochran and others have been meeting for more than a year to outline the goals and objectives of the HUB Arts on 8 initiative.
Other agencies involved include Venango County Planning Commission, Franklin Fine Arts Council, Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce, Titusville Council on the Arts and Titusville Renaissance, Inc.
Recently, the group signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the ORA in order to move forward financially with the inititative.
“What that will enable us to do is to actually be able to go after grant funding for this ... undertaking,” Cochran said.
“(The Hub) touches on tourism and economic development, which is what the Alliance really focuses on already,” Phillips said. “That’s why it works so well together.”
The initiative is designed to “promote the arts and to create a teaching environment that will draw new artists and artisans, as well as tourists, to the region,” according to a recent newsletter released by Cochran.
“The quality of life is really driving our commerce community,” Williams said. “We know that to attract a workforce and new businesses, they’re going to want to see that quality and culture here within our community.”
The focus of the initiative is broad in scope, including traditional artists (painters, sculptors, and studio artists), musicians, actors, dancers and general artisans (makers of functional and decorative art).
“It’s cooperative marketing, not just for the three communities that can all benefit from the buzz each one creates, but also for the individual artists that get involved,” Wheeler said. “Anybody that hangs his or her hat on our logo is going to see long-term benefits from that.”
Cochran said that the region designated for the initiative was also based on the five school districts in the area — Franklin, Oil City, Titusville, Cranberry and Valley Grove. She said that the group is interested in attracting young, student artists and artisans, too.
“What we want to do is to continue becoming the gathering point for providing education for artists and artisans ... so we can strengthen what we already have,” Gagliardo said.
Organizers said that an art trail could provide valuable revenue to the region, drawing increased tourism, while helping local artists better market their wares. They pointed to the success of other area art trails as proof.
“You can’t argue with the success the other art trails in Pennsylvania have had,” Phillips said. “A lot of work has gone into them, but they provide true economic benefit to those regions. You can’t argue with those numbers.”
The HUB Arts on 8 is a volunteerdriven initiative, with funds for marketing and promotion coming initially from available grants and, later, from potentially increased tourist revenue.
“On any given weekend there are tons of things going on that are arts-related and what we want to do, through cooperative efforts and volunteerism, is take what we already have and showcase that to our local communities,” Cochran said. “We’re not trying to recreate the wheel here.”
Members of the group also hope that the initiative will also draw other artists and artisans from other regions of the country to the area.
“When you see the dedication and passion these organizations have you can see that we all care very much about this community and region and we want it to be successful,” Phillips said. “In the grand scheme of things, there are a lot of communities that don’t have the resources we have here.”
HUB Arts of 8 is currently seeking artists and artisans interested in becoming part of the initiative. For more information regarding HUB Arts on 8, visit the group’s Facebook page or contact any of the agencies mentioned above.
“Artists have a communication mechanism that is very word-of-mouth and so you have to (understand) that mechanism to be able to communicate with folks and let them know what’s going on,” Phillips said. “It’s not just about connecting people who want to see art and performances, it’s also about connecting the artists themselves.”
Please go to updated events page: www.artsoilcity.com/newspage.htm