September 10, 2011

Public funding, enterprenuerialism and a yarn bomb in OKC's Plaza District

For more than 10 years, community organizers, neighborhood residents and volunteers have spearhead the revitalizations of Oklahoma City's Plaza District.

Public funding has played a role in this work and includes resources provided by the City of Oklahoma City for a major streetscaping project and state funds provided by the Oklahoma Arts Council via grants.

Public funding for the arts has a long history of courting private investment, entrepreneurialism and innovation across Oklahoma.

Arts and culture are a major economic engine for a state and nation, and this is big reason why Oklahoma City business leaders launched Oklahomans for the Arts in May.

Collected Thread, a shop in the Plaza District,  marked its third anniversary last week. According to a NewsOK story, the store owner, Lindsay Zodrow, along with a dozen or so other talented knitters decided to "yarn bomb" the district to celebrate the event.

The Plaza District is a neighborhood commercial district boasting Oklahoma City's local arts flavor.

Located on NW 16th between Classen Boulevard and Penn Avenue, the district is home to art galleries, studios, retail shops, restaurants, and creative services.

In the 1920s a commerical niche formed along NW 16th Street between Blackwelder and Indiana Avenues.

 Throughout the 1950s and 60s, the area remained economically viable; however, considerable changes occurred from the 1970s to the 1990s as the area began a slow and steady decline.

Population demographics shifted, the commercial area diminshed and crime rates rose.

Every dollar of public funding for the arts in Oklahoma generates $9 of economic activity in the state. Public funding for the arts jump starts projects. These projects are produced by artists and arts organizations and consumed by a public hungry for art and culture. This is simple economics and it's called the circular flow of income. 

You've probably heard the term "critical mass." It refers to the minimum amount of something required to start or maintain a venture. The Oklahoma Arts Council has helped many projects reach critical mass over its 40-year history. It's done this by seeding arts and cultural ventures before they've achieved brand awareness. Red Earth is one example. The Woody Guthrie Folk Festival is another.

Cheers to the entrepreneurial and artistic spirit of Collected Thread! 

For information on how to join Oklahomans for the Arts, click here. While you're at it, enter our contest to win an iPad 2