OTTUMWA — In one of the largest town hall meetings ArtSpace organizers have ever seen, artists and art lovers asked questions and gave their input on what can be done to renovate and use the Capri and Capitol theaters in downtown Ottumwa.
The evening began with entertainment in the lobby of Bridge View Center, showcasing just a few of the art forms that could utilize the theaters — live music, dance, film, painting and drama. A slideshow of photos from the theaters dating back to the 1920s brought back some memories and triggered some new ideas.
The town hall meeting portion of the event was an introduction to Artspace by Roy Close, the organization’s vice president of special projects.
He was quick to explain that they aren’t an entrepreneurial group, but have been invited to Ottumwa by the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation to examine the community and what type of arts center it can sustain.
“There are lots of ways to define an artist, and our philosophy is to do that very liberally,” Close said. “We want them to be passionate about having a career in the arts and live in our buildings.”
Many before and after photos of other Artspace projects across the company were shown, bringing oohs and ahs from the crowd.
Artspace’s purpose in each community they have worked in, and in Ottumwa in particular, is to assess the art uses of the building, collect information on the city and the art community and then write a summary of recommendations for the next steps in the process.
Once the gathering was opened up to public comment and questions, the ideas started flowing. All ages groups were represented, and mention was made of studio space to record and produce music, giving the overlooked talent in the area a place to launch from. Others talked about computer technology space, a place for the high school’s popular show choir to host competitions and multiple options for both film and live theater.