May 31, 2018 | UrbanMain District Spotlight: Danville, Virginia |
This past month, the Danville River District Association in Virginia invited the National Main Street Center’s Dionne Baux to present “Developing and Championing Cultural Business Districts,” a workshop for local stakeholders about the steps for developing a district that represents the breadth of cultural identities present in the area and their histories.
Baux’s presentation gave an overview of successful cultural business districts throughout the country and reviewed detailed steps for creating partnerships, establishing funding, and marketing. Baux noted immediate steps that Danville Main Street can take to champion a cultural business district utilizing the Four Points of the Main Street Approach (Economic Vitality, Design, Promotion, and Organization). The workshop also included a district walk and a facilitated discussion on the River District’s next steps in implementing a cultural business district to complement to their goal of become a regional destination for outdoor sports, health and wellness.
Beyond planning for technical aspects of district planning, the session delved deeper into the community’s vision. As the River District proceeds with revitalization planning, the organization aims to ensure all residents and stakeholders are included. As a takeaway from the workshop, River District Executive Director Diana Schwartz noted: “There is a huge opportunity for us as a community to sit down and discuss the best way to approach conversations and topics to avoid misunderstandings about intentions and purpose. Before we start planning about what we are going to do and how we are going to do it, we must first understand the values and perspectives of a broad range of voices.”
Participants also felt the impact of a broad community conversation. “I love that the workshop brought together people of different backgrounds and who are not also at the table when discussions like this are taking place. Everyone there had the same purpose in mind, making Danville a warm and welcoming city for all people,” said Sheila Baynes, Chairman of the Danville Community College Board of Trustees.
For Danville, a community of about 43,000 located on the North Carolina border, the workshop resonated with current community needs. As Schwartz noted, “Fears of gentrification and understanding what that means to different people are not confined to only big cities, but important discussion for all of us to have continuously.”
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