Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray has made the arts part of Lancaster City’s newly revised strategic plan. Lancaster is to become a significant arts destination. Evidence of the arts momentum in Lancaster is the hugely successful First Friday’s and the increasing amount of public art appearing throughout the city. The goal is for much more.
Making Lancaster more aesthetically pleasing will enhance the quality of life for city residents and give tourists another reason to come to Lancaster County; other than riding around in tour buses staring at the Amish, eating at Shady Maple and shopping at the Rockvale Outlets. A trip to Lancaster County is not complete until one thoroughly immerses one’s self in the historic City of Lancaster (i am a former city resident who walked to Central Market to grocery shop every week).
So how does one go about turning this vision into a goal and then into a reality? First, one gets a $200,000 grant from the Lancaster County Community Foundation that will pay the Arts Manager’s salary for three years. Secondly, find a great candidate like John Lustig and hire him away from Indiana State University where he was the Curator and Director of the university’s permanent collection (valued at $45 million with 7,000 pieces of art). Finally, support him and allow him to do his job (which by all accounts will happen).
John is a doer. On his first day, John wrote up a letter of intent for a grant from National Endowment of the Arts. The deadline was midnight and John worked until 9:30 p.m. to make sure Lancaster would be in the running for this funding. Impressive first day!
Lustig will be jumping on an arts bandwagon that is already going strong in Lancaster. His role will be to kick things up a notch and bring more community attention to the arts scene. John will also be learning what other cities are doing to fund their arts programs and report back his findings. This information will help city officials find creative ways to fund public art projects without reinventing the wheel or breaking the bank.
John is excited about finding an iconic piece of art that will come to be identified with Lancaster (like the LOVE statue is to Philly, the “arch” to St. Louis or the Statue of Liberty with NYC.) Public art is a very broad term that can be applied to more than sculpture and murals. Lustig also considers things like architecture, design, commercial signs and audio clips played in a public space as art. Creativity exists in all things man-made. Maybe he has a twin brother who would like a job in Pottstown!?!
Just another reason to heart Lancaster!