City of Boise Crowdsources Five-Year Cultural Plan

by

Plates of cookies, pita chips and carrot sticks lined the conference room tables in the River conference room at Boise City Hall—but few of the dozen attendees at a City Department of Arts and History Boise Cultural Planning Process meeting asked why the tables, arranged in a U shape, were also strewn with Post-it notes.

The point of this meeting was to find out what both everyday citizens and people with vested interests believe is working, isn't working and might be missing from the city's expanding arts, cultural and historical scene.

"What's authentic to us? Who do we want to become?" asked Public Arts Manager Karen Bubb.

Bubb posed five questions:
What is culture?
What works well in Boise?
Where do you find culture in Boise?
What doesn't work well in Boise?
What would you like to see regarding culture in the future?

She gave everyone four minutes per question to write their answers on the Post-it notes, then opened the floor for discussion.

Attendees said high-performing arts and culture programs like The Cabin, Treefort Music Fest and the city's growing dance community are good fits for the City of Trees but could continue to benefit from public support. Transportation—particularly parking availability and the absence of a citywide network of bike lanes—the Grove plaza, the mall and a "brewpub overload" were seen as demerits. Some cultural features might have been overlooked were it not for a few stray observations; one attendee, Byron Folwell, said he enjoyed Boise's occasional parades.

"They shouldn't work anymore, but they do," he said.

As for improving Boise's cultural infrastructure, expanding transportation access, housing the homeless and building public "maker spaces" were a few of the things people said they'd like to see more of.

The Post-its were collected, and the Department of Arts and History will use that information to determine where and how it will distribute department resources through 2020.

Those who are unable to attend cultural planning meetings are encouraged to provide input through an Arts and History survey.

This was the second of three cultural planning meetings the Department of Arts and History is holding. Bubb said she has heard input from around 100 people but so far, not many have taken the online survey. The third and final Boise Cultural Planning Process meeting is on Monday, Nov. 17, 4:30-6 p.m., in the River Room at Boise City Hall. If you'd like to attend, RSVP to Karen Bubb at kbubb@cityofboise.org.