BRISTOL - The newly established Arts and Culture Commission seeks to boost tourism and create civil pride.
The commission was established Tuesday night at the City Council meeting and includes members Jesse Gallagher, Lindsay Vigue, Samantha Cloutier, Bill Stortz, Kim Valenti and Juliet Norton. There is one vacant position.
Stortz, a former Bristol mayor, said the commission will become official in about two weeks when charter changes take effect. From there, the mayor will call the first meeting and the group will discuss potential projects and initiatives.
“Arts and culture lead to tourism,” said Stortz. “That is a big goal of mine; to bring more tourism from out of town people but also to make local people more aware of what the city has to offer.”
Norton said that she is “very excited” about the establishment of the commission.
“I’m very involved in the community,” she said. “I attend art shows and music concerts, I served on the Mum Festival Committee and the Boulevard Taskforce and I was involved in Bristol Rising. My biggest goal is to be able to coordinate a way to get all of our creative people together and bring some life back to the town. I’d like to create a directory which people can refer to if they need an artist or a photographer or whatever it may be for some community event.”
Norton said that she “dabbles” in painting herself and noted that she is currently working on painting a light box near ESPN with an image of “old school Lake Compounce.”
Vigue, who formerly served on the Arts and Culture Task Force, said that she has created a list of priorities for the commission. They include creating a vision and aesthetic for downtown, having a more robust farmers market, creating a kickoff event to promote arts and crafts, focusing on a consistent social media presence, connecting with schools, securing grants and creating more visible public art.
“Any great city and town has a real element of creativity and artistic vision,” said Vigue. “I am glad that this city recognizes the value of what art can bring to a community. It does a lot for economic development. People want to be where there is life, energy, color and creativity.”
Stortz said that having art and culture in a community will help to create a sense of pride.
“We’re a good city that has a lot to offer,” he said. “One of the things that I know we will discuss is how we can get the schools and our young people involved.”
Stortz said that he is looking forward to the group’s first meeting.
“We have a lot of good people serving on this commission with very diverse ideas,” he said. “We’re all interested in doing something and I’m sure we can all come together to create something positive for the city.”
“Bristol has a small town feel, but it is a city with a diverse culture that we want to highlight,” said Vigue.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.