Boise Arts & History Department Presents Dazzling Cultural Master Plan

If you were to take a snapshot of Boise today, an allegorical one your grandchildren wouldn’t feign interest for,  the stuffy facts like its population and weather would take a contextual backseat. A story worthy of a campfire would be inclusive of Boise’s murals, zines, food, coffee, block parties and architecture. It would paint a picture of lively vendors outlining the Hyde Park Street Fair, diners chasing happy hours on 8th Street, the foothill free riders of the Outlaw Summer Concert Series and – to shamelessly poach the words of Bob Ross – all the happy little trees.

If you’re not the best playwright, we have excellent news: the City of Boise’s Department of Arts & History has fleshed it out for you in its beefy, 130-page Cultural Master Plan.

The document gives today’s Boisean an overdue audit of the Treasure Valley’s cultural ecology with a plan to provide tomorrow’s Boisean with a more vigorous framework. It sticks to its public sector roots by being no-frills yet still manages to outline Boise’s creative shortcomings in a convincing, reassuring way.

We’ll spare you a synopsis since the Cultural Master Plan is available online in its entirety, but if you’re a visual artist, graphic designer, musician, photographer, dancer or theatrical mime that plans to stick around Boise for the next 10 to 15 years, you have a few (prospective) things to look forward to:

  1. More financial support for cultural assets and programs
  2. More promotional support for cultural assets and programs
  3. A central public space for workshops, all-ages performances and studios
Les Bois poster by Ward Hooper
Les Bois Poster by local artist Ward Hooper (📷 by Joel Mann)

Plan on ditching the City of Trees for a bigger city or the rural countryside? No reason to leave with a salty mouthfeel. There’s a lot to appreciate, culturally, in Boise already. The city’s Percent for Ordinance reserves 1.4% of expenses for public art, which has funded over $5 million in capital projects since its enactment in 2001.

Though there’s much to be desired in terms of public installations and creative place making, there’s just enough of a presence to spark that desire within the everyday resident. Entities like Radio Boise, the Treasure Valley Artist Alliance and the Visual Arts Collective cropped up on their own. Rallying citizenry for city-owned efforts should be a non-issue.

The cherry on top is our robust Department of Arts & History. Though likely challenged by the normal menu of budgetary constraints, it’s staffed with movers and shakers willing to take on ambitious, perhaps grandiose, projects which are clearly labors of love.

The City of Boise has a lot on the cultural docket. Though the changes will be piecemeal, the Master Plan has set the pace for strategic development in a climate of rapid, unpredictable growth. In the meantime, you can support their efforts and our artist peers by purchasing local art, donating to relevant nonprofits (e.g. Surel’s Place or Boise Open Studios) and participating in future roundtables with the Department of Arts & History (Protip: subscribe to their events on  Facebook).

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Maria Lynch

Instrumental hip-hop headnodder based in Boise, ID. On the prowl for street art and inspiring urban movements.