The Rapidian

Visionary placemaking: GoSite to open this summer

Arts and cultural organizations are an important voice in civic leadership roles and community-building discussions. Leaders like Dana Friis-Hansen help our city continue to move towards collaborative thinking to create a fulfilling place to live, work and play
GRAM CEO and Executive Director Dana Friis-Hansen

GRAM CEO and Executive Director Dana Friis-Hansen /credit: Katie Zychowski

Underwriting support from:
GoSite Information Sharing Space

GoSite Information Sharing Space /courtesy Grand Rapids Art Museum

The award-winning new art museum building in downtown Grand Rapids: A community vision

The award-winning new art museum building in downtown Grand Rapids: A community vision /courtesy Grand Rapids Art Museum

The GoSite, a collaborative project brought together by GRAM to create a fun, innovative and welcoming place for visitors and locals alike to find and share information about Grand Rapids, will open Phase I this summer in the front corner of the Art Museum, along the Monroe Center corridor on Rosa Parks Circle. The GoSite is a coalition that includes the region’s destination marketing organization, downtown development groups, arts and cultural representatives and restaurant and hospitality industry leaders.

This project is one of several new endeavors demonstrating the strength and commitment of Grand Rapids’ collaborative spirit.

The community increasingly recognizes the importance of integrating our notable arts and cultural heritage into opportunities that enrich our everyday lives. It is an important component of community building and one that offers exciting new ways to approach collaborative thinking and in creating a fulfilling place to live, work and play.

This takes visionary leadership of the arts and cultural institutions, who are crucial in transforming historically narrower missions focused on collections and performances to broader goals with greater impact in the community.

One such leader is the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s CEO and Executive Director Dana Friis-Hansen, who took the helm at GRAM in July of 2011. Together with a forward-thinking board of trustees and generous community support, this art institution founded in 1910 is moving into its second century as vibrant and relevant as ever.

This transformation has led to innovative placemaking initiatives such as the GoSite, previously featured in The Rapidian’s Place Matters series.

Friis-Hansen explains that pursuing this community-building project fulfills aspects of the art museum’s updated Statement of Purpose and Objectives, ratified during recent strategic planning sessions.

“We understand that the community whose vision supported construction of an award-winning new art museum building at the center of Grand Rapids is also a community that understands that the arts are an important voice at the table in civic leadership,” he says. “GRAM is a 21st century art museum, one that uses its platform to be a community convener and a catalyst for creative thinking; a welcome space for the community to gather, to be inspired and to create a sense of place together. As guided by GRAM’s purpose statement and objectives, the Art Museum is the perfect fit to join in the coalition and to lead the GoSite project, with a prime location and a successful history of collaboration across public, private and nonprofit organizations.”

The statement of purpose for the Grand Rapids Art Museum is: With a dedicated focus on art, design, and creativity, GRAM provides diverse platforms for experiences, ideas and dialogue that enrich the human spirit and build practical learning skills. Through dynamic exhibitions, collections, learning initiatives, and community collaborations, GRAM increasingly serves as a cultural beacon and civic anchor. The statement includes five distinct objectives, including the objective to increase cultural and civic impact locally, regionally and beyond.

For a city to truly embrace placemaking efforts and work toward a comprehensive and holistic goal, inclusion of all stakeholders is necessary. From grass roots community groups to city planners, from residents to business owners, and indeed from the arts and cultural organizations too, we must each do our part to join the discussion and ensure all voices are heard as we move forward with an exciting future for Grand Rapids.

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