There's been plenty of discussion about the Tri-Cities social health in recent years, but not as much about the community's cultural health.
Kimberly Camp, CEO of the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center, thought it was time to change that, so she recruited an expert in cultural tourism to come to the Tri-Cities to talk about it.
E'Vonne Coleman-Cook of North Carolina will give a talk about how a healthy cultural community can dramatically boost tourism at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Country Gentleman restaurant in Kennewick. Cost is $20 and includes dinner.
"There are exceptional artists here in various disciplines, but the maturity of the cultural community has gone lacking," Camp said. "I wanted to get someone to talk about what could be done and what role cultural tourism plays in the health of the community from a variety of angles."
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Camp said areas needing improvement include: establishing a voice for the cultural community in economic development and business round tables; more involvement of the arts community in local boards for the chambers of commerce, TRIDEC and the Tri-Cities Visitors and Convention Bureau; and a larger presence for the cultural community at the Tri-Cities Airport.
"There should be arts and culture representation on key boards, and as part of the regular dialogue of business leaders, developers, et cetera," Camp said. "There should be a cultural presence at the airport with exhibit cases, promotional materials about what the area has to offer."
And Coleman-Cook is just the person to bring those issues to light, Camp added.
Coleman-Cook said in a recent email that she still is putting together the topics she plans to discuss but hopes to shed some light on the definition of cultural tourism and what it means to a community.
"I am still doing homework on the region, which is so well poised for opportunity," Coleman-Cook said. "Economic development is important, and there are quality of life benefits for residents."
Coleman-Cook has worked in the cultural sector for several years.
"I don't promote myself as an expert," she said. "I am someone who has been fortunate to walk many roads both cultural and tourism. I served on our Tourism Development Board for (about) eight years, and worked in the arts since 1977."
Coleman-Cook spent several years with the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., and is CEO of the Durham, N.C., Convention and Visitors Bureau.
She has been involved with cultural planning, festival productions and facilities development at the national level.
The presentation is sponsored by the Columbia Basin Badger Club. For reservations, call 736-1979 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.