Dozens brainstorm ideas to create a vibrant arts district in Germantown

Last year, Rev. Kevin Porter of the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown and Vivian Nix-Early of the BuildaBridge International arts organization came up with an idea: Let’s host a roundtable discussion about creating a sustainable arts district in the neighborhood.

In the time since, they had heard from many eager to get involved. On Thursday, they did so. At the Germantown Community Council’s second Artists’ Roundtable gathering, they would consider a recommended arts district resolution created by the GCC and Germantown Classic Town Initiative.

Local poets, writers, singers, graphic designers, painters, urban planners and more from Germantown and beyond attended.

“Engagement in the arts is a component of intellectual and physical health,” said retired urban planner David Hung, “and we need that here in Germantown.”

Asked for suggestions, ideas

Attendees were asked one question to get the discussion started: “Given that artists live around Germantown, what does art mean to you?” Some answers involved personal growth and self-awareness; others focused on collectively creating a better community for everyone.

From there, they considered ways that Germantown can become a better arts district. Many attendees said they thought the neighborhood got little-to-no positive recognition throughout the city.

“When anything good is reported from Germantown, it’s labeled under Mt. Airy or East Falls,” one noted aloud. “If there is anything bad that happens in Mt. Airy or East Falls, it’s known as Germantown. We want to change that.”

Asked to create a list of ways to help kickstart the arts district, recommendations included providing more social-media support for the community needs and wants; keeping an inventory of current or aspiring artists, businesses and vendors; finding exhibition- and class-space for artists; harnessing better political and community support; and letting visitors know that they are welcome here whether they artists, tourists or other.

What’s next?

Though they initially gathered to vote on an arts-district proposal, it was tabled. The next roundtable will be held sometime in early January. A website will soon be created to keep everyone updated on the ideas and goals.

“We want to take our time with this,” Porter explained. “We will start off by finding out if some of these ideas are already in place. We want people to come to Germantown and feel inspired, enjoy the arts and see it for what it really is, which is a beautiful place.”

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