The Sherman Cultural Arts District is celebrating it’s one year anniversary soon and Cary Wacker recently gave an update on the things that the program has been doing one year in. The district was founded in Sept. 2018 as the Texas Commission on the Arts announced Sherman’s designation as an official Texas Cultural District following a successful competitive application process.

Sherman celebrated its new status at a ceremony and reception on Nov. 30, 2018 at the Sherman Municipal Ballroom in downtown Sherman. Gary Gibbs, executive director of TCA, presented a proclamation, and the event featured the Piner MIddle School Choir and remarks from civic leaders.

Prior to the cultural district designation, Sherman had a smaller arts district established in 2000 that included Kidd-Key Auditorium and Finley Playhouse.

Covering the same 40 blocks of the Sherman Main Street District, the Sherman Cultural District represents both a geographic area encompassing cultural sites, restaurants, museums and theaters, and a partnership, comprising the many arts and cultural groups that call Sherman home.

“Our vision is to be a lively, imaginative and evolving artistic hub that engages all people in the creative life of the community. Our mission is to advocate for the arts and artists, improve the built environment, promote arts-based tourism and economic growth, and create opportunity for inclusive cultural and civic engagement with art in all forms.” Wacker said.

The Sherman Cultural Arts District does work with the many nonprofit and business organizations that advocate for and promote the arts and humanities in our community. The Sherman Independent School District also a important partner. The Cultural District Advisory Council is hosted by Austin College in cooperation with the city of Sherman. The Advisory Council is a 14-member group with representation from community arts organizations, arts-based businesses, cultural groups, city staff, the chamber, Downtown Sherman NOW, and Austin College. The group reports quarterly to the Sherman City Council.

They also recently introduced Focalpoint(!), a program that offers a series of public photography workshops and participatory public art programs that celebrate the varied cultural traditions of Sherman residents. Using photography workshops to build social engagement around the arts, the Focalpoint(!)Project invites Sherman residents to contribute to a databank of curated images of places, people, and culture. These images will populate temporary displays in downtown Sherman that are artist-designed and community-built.

Throughout the project, Austin College will engage community partners including the city of Sherman, Sherman Independent School District and cultural groups in building a shared sense of place among residents. Focalpoint(!) is funded in part by a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts through its Our Town grant program. Focalpoint(!) was designed by and is under the administration of Austin College as the NEA Our Town grant recipient. Sherman serves as the required municipal partner and is the official designee for the Sherman Cultural District, but Austin College is managing the administration of the program through a memorandum of understanding with the city.

Future events coming up include Several Focalpoint(!) activities at Arts Fest 2019 with the unveiling of the first photography display; photographer-artist reception; photography workshop; mural-making. See the Focalpoint(!) Facebook page for more information.

Also the Cultural District Advisory Council is hosting a grant writing seminar for arts nonprofits from 4-6 p.m. Oct. 8 at Austin College. October is National Arts and Humanities Month and they will have some small celebrations.