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Old Town AIR, December Update

Sign designed by artist Michael Houston. Sign will be installed in Summer of 2014.
Sign designed by artist Michael Houston. Sign will be installed in Summer of 2014.


As the cold, dark Kachemak winter settles around the arts center, we are already visualizing spring and summer months in Old Town.  We are excited to picture public and ephemeral art additions in Old Town! The second phase of our Old Town Initiative, the Artist In Residency (AIR) program, had been planted and now it’s beginning to grow!  Visualizing the new program, presenting the opportunity and finally seeing the colorful responses have truly been invigorating to our staff and review panel!


CaFE response and process

When we joined the Alliance of American Art Communities and listed our Old Town Artist in Residence and Old Town Public Art call permanent and ephemeral art on (a popular search for professional, national, artistic opportunities) we had absolutely no idea what to expect.  We had never presented an open call for a residency program before, and we had the jitters.  Would our call be competitive enough? Would our call even be intriguing to outsiders?  Positioned alongside the bigwigs who are able to offer $250,000 budgets… would artists apply to our comparatively modest residency program in far-away Old Town, Homer, Alaska?  Conversely, would we get flooded with applicants?  But, being a national call and an opportunity to live in one of the most beautiful landscapes, popular travel destinations and best art towns in the nation, this was a gem!  Jitters.  Our calls closed on Dec 1st, with a robust 65 applicants for Old Town Public Art and 82 for Artist in Residence.  Perfecto!

We are delighted with the caliber and diversity of applicants.  We have also been thrilled with the flexibility of CaFE in regards to the initial review process for our panel.  We prize the partnerships that were inspired by the Old Town Initiative, and reviewing the possibilities is essentially the most exciting part for all!  By inviting those new partners we are sharing the steering power. Our panels include representatives from the City of Homer including Homer Public Works Department, Homer Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, the Public Arts Committee as well as  the Homer Chamber of Commerce, prominent local and state-wide artists.  The effort expresses our desire to manifest a shared vision that benefits and represents the entire community.  This is the magic of collaborative processes.  Sharing power mean sharing in ownership, and we want our developments to be owned by all.


Since our participation in MAPP (Mobilizing Action through Planning and Partnership) of the Southern Kachemak Peninsula, Bunnell Street Arts Center’s Old Town AIR program has been asked to be enlisted as a “workgroup” on the peninsula’s MAPP website.  Community workgroups are those who successfully advocate for their causes by partnering within the community to make collective impact.  We are thrilled to be considered a collaborative and successful working group and look forward to helping to mobilize other healthy community efforts for other developing groups! We had our first successful effort banding together Homer Arts and Culture Alliance and ReCreate Rec on Monday night at Homer City Council. The City had dropped funding for local arts and culture nonprofits from its 2014 Budget. In two hours of testimony from about 30 local organizations we convinced the City to reinstate funding and contribute $35,000 to an area-wide collaborative Arts, Recreation and Culture needs assessment. This project, which we are informally calling Homer’s ARC represents a new interest in working together for positive collective impact.


And as we take each new step forward, I’m thankful for the type of community Homer is.  Homer is an open door for those who want to better it.  It is filled with innovative thinkers, and frontier do-ers, which creates quite an ambitious community of people.  And as we are continue to reach out to more of our town’s strengths within the non-profit, for-profit and civic groups, by way of our Old Town Initiative, many of those groups are also identifying Homer as the art hot-spot that it is.  We are not the only ones chirping the song anymore.  Our positive collaboration and quick results have largely been credited to minimizing our individual group “differences” and capitalizing our shared community vision of nurturing the creative identity which is unique to Homer. This project is owning what Homer’s potential has always been, and it’s making an example for the state to follow.

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