APPLETON - Houdini Plaza isn't the only thing magical about downtown Appleton.
There's a push to make the heart of the city more artistic.
The arts are not a foreign concept to Downtown Appleton. But the winds of change are bringing in a new focus and feel to the downtown.
"It is a pillar of what is so attractive about Downtown Appleton, to have facilities like the Performing Arts Center, the Building for Kids, the Trout Museum, the Museum of the Arts and we really have a great base to build on," said Appleton Downtown Inc. Executive Director Jennifer Stephany.
And that creativity starts in the heart of downtown at Houdini Plaza and the newly renamed Fox Cities Building for the Arts, which provides a focal point for the art district.
The building houses five different artistic non-profit groups from choirs to a ballet company and the Trout Museum of Art. They're different groups with the same mission of sharing the arts with the community.
"It's how, creatively, can we reach out to all areas of the community to show how the arts touches everybody?" said Pamela Williams-Lime, President of the Fox Cities Building for the Arts.
A $2 million renovation project on the building is nearly complete. All of the organizations pay rent, but share space for classes and workshops. Williams-Lime says it helps create efficiencies for the organizations to keep costs down. That in turn helps provide low- and no-cost ways for people to be exposed to different art forms.
"We offer an art form in not, only music and drama and art and dance, but we also offer community members a chance to be engaged in those activities," said Jeanie Kurka Reimer, Executive Director of New Voices.
Stephany says artistic businesses are also starting to fill in open spaces downtown, forming a creative economy that helps keep the focus on local artists.
"That type of business is exactly what we are looking for. It might not be a widget or something that you necessarily crafted by hand, but it's the creative eye that is encompassing to that business."
And enveloping the downtown in creativity.
Stephany also says a public art plan is in the works to display local artists works in public and private venues downtown.
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