1 The consideration of creating a cultural plan for the City of DeSoto has not only uncovered opportunities for growing the expanding quantity and quality of arts experiences offered in the city but also has presented structural challenges that, once addressed, will allow the City to achieve its goals for advancing the arts. These challenges are not unlike those found in other cities where the goal to move from a program -based commitment to the arts toward a policy- based approach appears to undermine the progress that has already been achieved in this area. In DeSoto, the program -based approach has been met with a welcoming response from the community, and over time, the consistency of arts programs is considered an asset by residents. Growing the arts sector, however, will mean investing in people (volunteers leadership, artists and arts patrons). Work sessions with current Arts Commissioners revealed opportunities for developing a stronger Arts Commission to provide increased guidance for advancing the arts in DeSoto. OBSERVATIONS • While the staff overseeing the City’s arts and culture programs has demonstrated strong stewardship of resources, the City would benefit from hiring a professional Arts Administrator with the necessary background and experience to focus attention on the goals of this plan. • In order to move beyond the current focus on grant-making, the City should charge the Arts Commission with developing a shared vision and guiding principles for catalyzing and growing the arts sector in DeSoto. These principles should be reviewed and approved by the City Council on a regular basis. • Arts Commission Members are steeped in the grant-making process, responding to funding requests as presented by non-profit organizations. As a group, Commissioners should see themselves as visionaries or “cultural procurement officers” on behalf of the residents. • Commission Members and Thought Leaders expressed interest in becoming more knowledgeable about ways to broaden public access to the City’s arts resources. • Identifying DeSoto based artists should be a priority. INVEST IN PEOPLE


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