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6/11/2018 8:51:00 AM
Jasper strategic plan prepares community arts for future

Leann Burke, Herald

JASPER — The Jasper Community Arts Center could have a new logo in the next few years.

The possibility of creating a new logo and tagline in conjunction with the opening of the Jasper Cultural Center — which is scheduled to open in 2020 and will unite the arts department and Jasper Public Library in one building at the corner of Main and Third streets — is one of several goals outlined in the department’s newest strategic plan. The strategic plan covers the next five years and goes into effect in January.

“If there’s ever a time to (rebrand), it’s when you have a new building,” said Kyle Rupert, director of Jasper Community Arts.

The rebranding falls under the “identity” category of the strategic plan. Other categories are facility needs, audience and programming. Also under identity are the development of a smartphone app for the department and an increased presence on social media, two items the staff has started working on.

Rupert said the staff is posting more often to the department’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, and at last week’s board meeting, Rupert presented the possibility of using San Diego-based company InstantEncore to develop an app. Rupert said he hadn’t been planning to bring up the app so soon after drafting the comprehensive plan, but he happened to be sorting through old emails and found one from the company. Knowing the board’s desire for an app, he reached out to the company. Now, the board plans to vote on the company at it’s July meeting, schedule for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 3, in Jasper City Hall, 610 Main St.

The current facility at 951 College Avenue is the main focus of the facilities section of the plan, Rupert said. The building is decades old, and major mechanical systems have started to fail. At the last board meeting, Building Manager Doreen Lechner presented a laundry list of needs to the board, including the replacement of a chiller, which is part of the central air system, that is from 1999. The stage area also needs several upgrades to match what today’s performances require, Rupert said.

“We make do with what we have,” Rupert said. “We’re fortunate that many artists are flexible.”

Other improvements include additional bathrooms and upgrades under the Americans with Disabilities Act, including a wheelchair ramp for the stage.

Once the Cultural Center is complete, the offices and gallery spaces currently housed at the 951 College Ave. will move downtown, but performances will continue to be held at the current location.

Staff kept the Cultural Center and The Astra Theatre in mind when crafting the programming section of the plan, Rupert said, adding items such as more joint programs with the Jasper Public Library and a multi-day art workshop with a regional artist, which would be possible in the Cultural Center thanks to the planned workshop spaces. The department also wants to do more in conjunction with town events, such as the Strassenfest and Old Jasper Days since both The Astra and the Cultural Center will be located downtown.

Staff also plan to expand program offers for special needs citizens. They already offer some workshops for the demographic and have been looking for ways to offer more, Rupert said.

A key part of the audience section is expanding the volunteer base to include younger people. The arts department relies on volunteers to help set up and tear down shows, to take tickets and to help with other projects around the department. Attracting younger patrons is also key to the section, Rupert said, citing that at some shows, the audience includes few if any middle-aged or young adults.

“When I say younger, it’s a pretty wide swath,” Rupert said. “40 and younger.”

Several items from the identity section, including the smartphone app and increased social media presence, are geared toward attracting the younger audiences. Outside of the strategic plan, the arts department will implement online ticket sales for individual tickets beginning Aug. 1, another move the staff hopes will encourage younger people to attend shows.

The audience section, and the plan as a whole, is all geared toward ensuring the arts department’s future.

“It’s a good time for us to set up the Arts Center for the next 40 years,” Rupert said.

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