Creativity, diversity

Pam Holocher sees an artist in everyone

Pam Holocher, photography by Ellie Bogue

Pam Holocher, photography by Ellie Bogue

Creativity is the thing. Diversity, too.

And Pam Holocher would love to watch the city’s relatively young arts campus grow south and west from her office on the eighth floor of Citizens Square, while we’re on the subject.

Holocher, the city’s deputy director of community planning, is also the mayor’s representative on the Arts United board, an opportunity to serve that she is delighted to have.

“My parents loved arts and culture, and that’s what we did. It’s part of how I grew up.

“I’ve always done something creative,” she said. She has done basket weaving, and now she designs and makes jewelry.

“I think everybody is creative, and to nurture that creativity in everybody is part of our culture. I think creativity is the essence of who we are.”

Her professional experience as a planner is proving valuable to Arts United, and she is serving on the strategic planning task force after having helped with the work to win the official designation for the downtown cultural district along Main Street and south. The strategic plan begins with a deep exploration of what the community says it wants and needs its arts and cultural groups to be and do.

“It’s bold,” she said. “We’ve always supported some of the key arts and cultural organizations here. The question is, do we continue doing what we have done or do we branch out into other areas that we haven’t engaged before?”

She sees important parallels between Arts United’s strategic plan and the City of Fort Wayne’s planning for riverfront development because both place high value on engaging diverse populations, based on the recognition of the link between social and cultural diversity and economic prosperity.

“What is interesting is when you go to other cities, everyone says it’s the diversity,” she said, “and we have such momentum here. Engaging the diverse groups is key.” She means all kinds of diversity: economic, age, ethnic, lifestyle, but she is particularly curious about and interested in Millennials.

“I think they are disenfranchised with some things,” she said. “They often don’t vote, but they have so much creativity and so many ideas. How do we engage the Millennials in what we do? They are our future.”

She remembers a big lesson she learned when the cultural district planning engaged diverse populations. It is that the current cultural district, Arts United’s Arts Campus, should be understood as a beginning, not the final achievement.

“There was really the thought that this should expand to the south and maybe to the west,” she said. “There wasn’t the idea we would remain static.”

Third of six celebrations of Arts United’s 60th anniversary.

Editor’s note
As it conducts its annual fund drive and celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2015, Arts United has just successfully completed one strategic plan (you can see it in the busy Arts Campus on East Main Street and everywhere else its partner and member arts groups are at work) and is preparing for the next. To celebrate, it is saluting the work of six of its founders. Fort Wayne Magazine is proud to join the celebration by profiling six of today’s Arts United leaders who are continuing the work by Living the Legend, once each month through June. This month, founder Esther Collyer, arts educator credited with creating the Fine Arts Festival predecessor to today’s Taste of the Arts Festival, was the inspiration for profiling Arts United board member Ryan Twiss. The two share a commitment to the importance of education and the arts in people’s lives and to Fort Wayne’s continued vitality as a city.

John D. Shoaff, 1908-1982
John D. Shoaff became involved with Arts United because he believed that by uniting, the arts and cultural organizations in our community would become stronger. Mr. Shoaff and the original Arts United founders realized all the nonprofit arts organizations faced the same issues: fundraising, public recognition and lack of a performing arts center. The logical thing was to form one centralized organization to benefit all. Today, Arts United strives to preserve the integrity of the original vision of its founders.

An invitation from Arts United
With one gift to Arts United you support more than 60 arts and culture organizations, enhancing the quality of life in our vibrant community. Give today at www.artsunited.org or by mailing your contribution to Arts United, 300 E. Main St. Fort Wayne, IN 46802. For more information on how to give, please contact Rena Burden, Director of Development at (260) 424-0646 or rburden@artsunited.org.

First appeared in the March 2015 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine.

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