Downtown Vitalization Through Digital Media Arts
Wyoming Community Media (WCM), in partnership with Laramie County Community College (LCCC), the City of Cheyenne (CITY), LightsOn! Development Group (LightsOn!) and the Cheyenne Convention and Visitors’ Bureau (Visit Cheyenne), Wyoming Film Office (WFO), Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine TV (WLMTV)will provide a variety of opportunities to attract digital media artists – webmasters, photographers, filmmakers, animators – to Cheyenne and grow homegrown digi-artists to diversity the vitality of Downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Growth in community colleges is projected to happen quickly through the new “Skills For America’s Future” program that develops stronger partnerships between private sector and community colleges with an additional 5 million associate degrees awarded by 2020. The WCM CAP project is on the leading edge of this trend.
Cheyenne has a rich arts community and is an emerging digital media-based community. Cheyenne is the home of the UCAR super computer that is being developed in partnership with the University of Colorado — Boulder and the University of Wyoming. The Cheyenne economic base is ripe for expansion in the areas of digital media arts.
WCM and its partners want individuals and groups in the Cheyenne community and attract others to develop a space to tell their stories, share their commonalities and differences in the safe haven of the arts and particularly digital media.
Visit Cheyenne, the LightsOn!, the WFO the City and LCCC all promote the arts and culture as ways to expand and vitalize Downtown Cheyenne. In addition to merely promoting the arts as an “add-on” to community development, the project’s goal is to integrate digital arts into the Downtown fabric. WCM proposes to create additional partnerships with at least seven Downtown cultural activities, organizations and events for which promotional videos will be produced to increase cultural tourism in Downtown Cheyenne.
As a baseline, Cheyenne lodging tax figures declined 10.5 percent and sales and use tax collections are down 12.7 percent between the 1st quarters of 2009 to 2010. The Wyoming Arts Council (WAC) developed a Cultural Vitality Index (CVI) measuring arts and culture activity. The Wyoming CVI was recently released and doesn’t analyze digital media arts.
However, based on analysis of eight job categories identified by the CVI, Southeast Wyoming has experienced a 9 percent decrease in digital arts job count and broken down further, Laramie County had a 27 percent decline between 2006 and 2008 from 104 jobs to 82 digital arts jobs.
WCM is working with LCCC to develop a digital media filmmaking curriculum – to augment its existing web design and photography courses – that takes place in Downtown Cheyenne. Not only will participants learn hands-on skills related to pre-production tasks including story telling/screenwriting, casting, location scouting; production services — lighting, sound and camera operation; post production — editing, but also skills around distribution such as through film festival production, on websites and community access television.
This project will assist WCM and LCCC design an academic curriculum for those wishing to learn more about digital video media arts and how it can be applied to existing jobs, nurture entrepreneurship of those reinventing themselves, create means and ways for communities to tell their stories and apply their learning in “out of school” experience in partnership with local non-profit organizations. WCM plans to partner with at least five downtown projects and produce promos for the events to bring more cultural tourists to downtown Cheyenne.
The project also provides a way to integrate art into the community through monthly Downtown Brown Bag series at non-traditional venues – bookstores, banks, law firms, architect offices, etc. – for local business owners and organizations to position themselves as potential purveyors of goods and services or as locations to the film and digital media industry or for artists wanting to learn about entrepreneurship and the business of art.