City: Arts, cultural development aid economic growth
LANCASTER — Lancaster Museum of Art and History art manager Andi Campognone, and programs coordinator Robert Benitez updated the Social Equity Commission on the Lancaster Museum of Art and History master cultural plan Wednesday night.
The current five-year cultural plan will expire this year. The impetus to develop the plan came from the City Council, who recognized that arts and cultural development enable economic growth and improve a community’s quality of life.
Lancaster developed the current plan with extensive feedback from the community and stakeholders. A member of the Social Equity Commission will be asked to join the stakeholder committee for the updated plan.
The three goals for the current plan included to increase partnerships and improve communication to bridge across divides in racial ethnicity and socio-economic class.
“This was really successful,” Campognone said. “There were a lot of partnerships that happened throughout the AV, both with organizations here in the Antelope Valley and with the county.”
The second goal was to sustain a plan to expand programs for youth throughout the community. The third goal was to enhance Lancaster’s public image and instill a sense of pride.
Benitez provided the update on the 2021-26 master cultural plan, which is currently under development.
“As Andi mentioned, collaboration is going to be at the heart of our next master cultural plan,” Benitez said. “It’s vital that our residents lead the way, allowing them to express and experience the transformational, cultural, and social power of art and image. What this means is that our residents take ownership of their city’s cultural future.”
The City contracted with Dani Dodge, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter who left journalism in 2008 to focus on art. Dodge has spent years in the Antelope Valley engaging with the community through various artist residencies.
“The work she has done has been illuminating,” Benitez said.
The City has received feedback from 325 respondents to the latest survey for phase one of the project. Of those respondents, 98% indicated that arts and culture are critical to the health of a vibrant city like Lancaster, Benitez said.
“This connection is a power indicator that our community is yearning for more engagement,” Benitez said.
A committee of employees, community members, and businesses are working on the proposed 2021-26 master cultural plan.
“We’d love your help,” Benitez said.
The initial findings show that in addition to visual arts and performance, food in an immediate and recognizable element of culture that the City could support through something such as a citywide food festival or pop-up cultural restaurants.
Respondents would also like to see Lancaster expand and evaluate its existing cultural assets, and do more to reach the east side of the city.
“This, of course, leans into our plan’s focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, which has been and will continue to be centered throughout the planning process,” Benitez said. “Lancaster is a community that embraces its diversity and sees it as a strength and a way of life.”
Benitez closed the presentation with a quote from an anonymous Lancaster resident.
The resident described Lancaster as “a cxity that takes into account all of its residents no matter their socio-economic situation; a city that looks after one another; a city that provides resources for those in need; a city that embraces all cultures and languages and shows it by conducting cultural events that celebrate us.”
“That was a beautiful quote; I really do feel that in my heart too as a Lancaster resident, and I think what MOAH is doing is beautiful,” Chairman Shawntwayne Cannon said.
Commissioner Teresina Hone agreed that food would bring people together.
“I’m totally down for that, for some kind of food festival,” Hone said. “There’s so much to learn about other cultures through food, especially for kids, it’s something that’s easily accessible.”