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New Coalition Plans To Boost Arts & Culture In Rock Springs

Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency
Rock Springs Mayor Tim Kaumo

Arts organizations, businesses, and individuals from Rock Springs have formed the Sweetwater Arts Partnership group to combine their efforts to raise awareness and strengthen the arts scene in the local community.

Back in November 2019, Rock Springs was named one of three pilot communities for the Wyoming Arts Alliance Professional Development Program. The Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency and the Community Fine Arts Center jointly applied to the program.

Since then, the organizations have been collaborating with other local businesses, art educators, and artists regularly to develop the pilot workshop with the program coordinator from Wyoming Arts Alliance. From those meetings, the Sweetwater Arts Partnership group was formed.

Credit Debora Soule
CFAC Director Debora Soule

Debora Soule, who is the director of the Community Fine Arts Center (CFAC), said the program gave the tools needed to bring everyone together and agree to work collectively. "That was one of the goals we had with doing this training with Wyoming Arts Alliance," she said. "That we would bring all these separate organizations together into a working committee, to be able to grow our arts in the city and in the county, because we do have hopes that we're going to be countywide soon."

She explained why this is so important. "Being able to create art that others respond to, you know, it's a way of communication in some ways, but there's just joy there," Soule said. "And I think we need some joy and happiness."

She also added the economic and financial incentive this industry brings to the state. "The arts is the third leading industry in our state for revenue," said Soule. "In our state alone, there's well over 11,000 jobs that are connected to arts and culture. You know, the revenue from that annually is 17 to $23 million, which is nothing to sneeze at. So, I think that's one of the reasons the arts matter."

As part of their expanded outreach, Sweetwater Arts Partnership group plans to host the first-ever Mayor's Arts Awards presentation to recognize local artists, art educators, and patrons of the arts later this spring. According to a press release from Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency, Rock Springs Mayor, Tim Kaumo, said he was approached by the event organizers about hosting this new ceremony. "I love the idea of recognizing and elevating the arts in our community," he said. "So this is a wonderful program."

Additionally, the group encouraged community members to join the "Pledge to Attend" and participate in at least one art-related activity or event, per month this year. The events can include "live music, theater productions, gallery shows, classes, etc." said CFAC director Debora Soule.

More information can be found on Rock Springs Main Street/URA website at downtownrs.com.

Naina Rao comes to Wyoming Public Radio from Jakarta, Indonesia. She has worked at NPR for Story Lab and the nationally syndicated show, "1A". Naina graduated from Michigan State University in 2018 with a B.A. in Journalism. Naina enjoys swimming, listening to podcasts and watching Bollywood movies.
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