THROUGH THE POWER OF ART
Eureka is home to a vibrant and engaged art community—a bright beacon of cultural and artistic creativity throughout the North Coast. Our city is also grappling with our own unique challenges of blight, homelessness, and economic shifts. We’re a community of people who are unapologetically different, willing to have hard conversations, and determined to seize our opportunities to thrive.
In 2017, the City of Eureka developed and adopted a Strategic Arts Plan. This document was created not only to effectively leverage our amazing artistic and cultural assets but to also address some of our major issues. It is an economic development tactic, developed in collaboration between the City of Eureka’s Development Department and Eureka’s arts community. It lays out actionable goals to support the arts by both the City and the community.
The projects and objectives defined in this document didn’t remain lofty goals discussed in boardrooms, only to be pushed to the back burner. We immediately started the hard and satisfying work of making our vision a reality, one project at a time. These projects, such as the Eureka Street Art Festival, or our Utility Art Boxes became a catalyst for renewed hope in our community—a tangible representation of an undeniable renaissance.
With ever-increasing community involvement and growing momentum, our Strategic Arts Plan continues to grow and evolve. As a whole, the City of Eureka is unwavering in our commitment to supporting, promoting, and enhancing the arts in Eureka.
In 2017, the City of Eureka developed and adopted a Strategic Arts Plan. At first glance, it may seem like focusing on the arts as an “unaffordable luxury.” Shouldn’t the city be focusing on bigger issues?
Yeah, that’s what we thought at first too. Many buildings have been vacant or underutilized for far too long. Many houseless individuals populate our waterfront, commercial areas, and other spaces within the City. Portions of the City, while full of possibility, have become known as shadowy, blighted, and garbage-strewn areas riddled with crime and vandalism.
With all of these issues shaping a negative reputation of our city, it didn’t seem like the Development Department had time to focus on things like murals and cultural events.
And yet, we kept hearing from many different voices in our community that art could be a part of the solution to these issues. Business owners lobbied for the City to invest in our aesthetic appearance. An endless stream of community members told us Eureka needed more “things to do.” Hotel owners consistently pointed to the need to clean up the City and show a “brighter side” to tourists and visitors. Representatives from the Chamber of Commerce asked how the City was supporting the State’s “highest per capita population of professional artists.”
A Strategic Arts Plan emerged as a vehicle community impact with a strong ripple effect. A few years in, our hunch has been proven to be true time and again. Our only regret is that we didn’t start it sooner.
Our intention is not to whitewash our issues or redirect the public’s attention from the very real challenges our community faces. The Strategic Arts Plan has changed Eureka’s trajectory by providing a guiding document that will lead the City towards a brighter future. We are using art as the creative and economic engine which unites our citizens to transform our region. Together we can bring sunshine into dark places.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE 2017 STRATEGIC ARTS PLAN
ART HELPS US TELL OUR STORY.
We are the Queen City of Salt and Fog, bordered by the Pacific coast and harbor to the west, rolling hills and Redwoods to the east, and the iconic Highway 101 snaking right through the heart of our town.
We’re also a town of artists and makers—with the highest artists per-capita in the state. Our diverse and talented artists help us tell the story of Eureka, creating a distinct sense of place as unique as we are.
ART MAKES EUREKA A MORE DESIRABLE PLACE TO LIVE & VISIT.
Not only does access to public art and cultural events improve our quality of life, but studies have also shown that investing in beautification makes communities safer and prevents crime. Targeting previously invisible spaces and areas of blight transforms our environment into a welcoming and memorable experience. Creating artful experiences (from events and festivals to murals and signage) attracts tourists to town, keeps them here longer, and gets them talking about our wonderful city long after they’ve left.
ART IMPACTS OUR ECONOMY.
Our priority is to help Eureka thrive—it’s the mission behind any project we take on as the Development Department. The arts are a serious component of our local economy, producing a similar amount of revenue in Eureka as the fishing industry. The combined revenue for the Arts, Recreation, and Entertainment firms exceeded $20 million dollars in 2014.
According to a study conducted by Americans for the Arts, America’s Nonprofit Arts & Culture Industry grossed $166.3 billion in economic activity nationwide. Arts events also provide ample opportunity to pour money into other industries as well. Restaurants, lodging, transportation, and childcare industries all benefit from a “night out on the town,” with each audience member spending an average of $31.47 on top of the price for the event itself.
ART UNITES US.
Implementing our Strategic Art Plan came at an ideal time when residents of Eureka were hungry for something positive to focus on in our community. Each mural and utility box is a conversation starter, (sometimes provoking a broad range of emotions from our citizens.) We see these projects and cultural events as a starting point for community engagement, an entry point into the broader conversation about how we can make Eureka great. It is our hope that ongoing implementation of our plan will empower each of us to take pride in our own neighborhoods, inspire new plans and projects to take shape, and encourage diverse voices in our community to share their perspective.
As a whole, the City of Eureka is unwavering in our commitment to supporting, promoting, and enhancing the arts in Eureka. Let’s create something beautiful, together!
CITY OF EUREKA, DEVELOPMENT SERVICES DEPARTMENT
Rob Holmlund, AICP, Director
Lane Millar, Deputy Director
Swan Asbury, Associate Planner
CITY OF EUREKA, ARTS & CULTURE COMMISSION
Susan Bloch-Welliver, Chairperson
Monica Topping, Vice Chairperson
Lori B. Goodman, Commissioner
Jemima Harr, Commissioner
Linda Wise, Commissioner
David Gordon, Commissioner
Calder Johnson, Commissioner