Barb Hollenbeck of the Hastings Arts Task Force addressed the Hastings City Council on Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of Hastings Community TV
Arts & Culture Commission will get council vote


The Hastings City Council is expected to vote on a first reading of an ordinance Monday, Nov. 7 on the formation of an Arts & Culture Commission.

The Arts & Culture Commission would be funded with 1 percent of the city’s annual capital improvements plan. The council is expected to vote on a twoyear trial of the commission, upon recommendation of the planning committee of the city council, comprised of councilmembers Tina Folch, Lisa Leifeld and Mark Vaughan.

“Following public encouragement for an Arts Commission, the city council reinstated the Arts Task Force to define the future objectives or mission of the group. In June 2022, the task force recommended creating an Arts & Culture Commission as well as part-time staff support and ongoing funding. The proposal was referred to the planning committee of the city. The planning committee has recommended creating a two year temporary commission, with potential extension later,” City Administrator Dan Wietecha wrote in a memorandum to the city council. “The planning committee agreed with greater support for the arts and its integration into city priorities. The committee felt that a commission may be a good vehicle for supporting the arts. The committee was also concerned that a commission may become frustrated by city policies, timing, and budget. The committee recommended creating a two-year temporary commission providing the opportunity to prove itself.”

Barb Hollenback of the Arts Task Force thanked the council for supporting the new commission.

“I just wanted to be here to thank everyone for their support,” she said at the Oct. 17 city council meeting. “I know the debate was kind of challenging and interesting. We’re bringing a new concept to the city council,” she said. “I know it’s a new concept, and the recommendation provides a two-year window. I feel with the amount of work the task force has done, the Arts & Culture Commission, when it’s established, is going to prove itself very useful. And it has that two-year window, which I think was a great compromise of a new concept going forward and gives that two-year window space to prove itself. I’m sure that in that two-year window, the Arts & Culture Commission will prove itself to be a valuable resource for the City of Hastings.”

A proposed charter of the commission lists as its purpose as assisting “Hastings in becoming a community in which arts and cultural activities: •Are recognized as vital components of community life that are worthy of investment and support from the public, private and nonprofit sectors;

•Are valued and promoted for their economic benefits and development potential throughout the city;

•Include Hastings’ historic, existing and emerging cultural groups identity and sense of community;

•Support the goals of Hastings’ arts education and programs for young people;

•Engage the talents and involvement of retirees and senior citizens;

•Enhance the public perception of Hastings’ identity and quality of life in the community itself, the surrounding region, and beyond.

•Achieve a strong sense of place through beautification and the creative activation of arts and culture.”

The commission will develop a city mission and strategic plan and “provide leadership for completing the city’s Comprehensive Plan sections regarding arts and culture goals and planning and provide ongoing input for plan revisions.”

The group believes that enhancing public art will also help tourism endeavors. The proposed charter states the commission will work “in cooperation with existing city departments and with the city council, develop and advocate design standards for city facilities, roadways, public areas, and private development, in order to advance a coherent image of Hastings as a place of unique aesthetic, architectural, and cultural identity.”

The commission will be comprised of seven volunteer members, with one as a youth voting member. The city council will approve commission members “with an effort to include diversity in age, gender identity and race: from arts and cultural organizations, schools, businesses, from the artist community and the community at large. Members will serve three-year terms. Meetings will be monthly.

Mayor Mary Fasbender credited the task force for its work in putting the commission concept together.

“It is exciting, just the collaboration that you all have and the thought process and what is best for the community,” she said. “You have two years to prove it to us, and I’m pretty sure you will.”

Folch said the council planning commission met three times on the subject.

“There was a lot of conversation and consideration that was brought into it. There was input from staff to learn what their concerns were,” she said. “I’m extremely grateful for all the dedication of the task force to initiate this. There’s a lot of potential here for bringing in more tourism to our community.”

November 2, 2022