DeKalb to increase art activities, create color

By Scott Nichol

DeKalb plans to increase the number of art activities and artists residing on the NIU campus by creating a Arts, Culture, Entertainment Corridor, presented at Monday’s City Council meeting.

The Arts, Culture, Entertainment Corridor is based on existing arts-related businesses, venues and educational spaces and would formally designate this area as an arts concentration with work, retail, event and visitor spaces according to the Proudly DeKalb website.

“Ultimately, if you can imagine a designated area within the community [where] sidewalks can’t be gray, light posts can’t be black or gray, utility boxes have to have murals on them,” said Cohen Barnes, DeKalb’s Revitalization Plan project CEO of the branding component. “With Northern [Illinois University] and local artists we could have sculptures, we could have murals, we could have sidewalk art.”

The Arts, Culture, Entertainment Corridor, which is projected to spread from the Holmes Student Center to Lincoln Highway and end just east of downtown DeKalb, will provide students with a colorful walk to and from class, Barnes said.

The corridor is part of the seven step DeKalb Revitalization Plan that a committee of volunteers created in order to be eligible for the $3 million prize from America’s Best Community, a competition to promote economic growth within smaller communities, according to the Proudly DeKalb website.

DeKalb progressed to the quarterfinals, winning $50,000, and in April moved to the top 15, according to the Proudly DeKalb website.

As a quarterfinalist, DeKalb was given 6-8 months to help develop the Revitalization Plan. The city received $15,000 from a sponsor, according to the Proudly DeKalb website.

“The competition revolves around communities that can come up with a revitalization plan,” Barnes said. “A way they can move their community forward.”

Barnes said that the seven proposed projects would not only help attract students to NIU, but also attract tourists to DeKalb.

“One of the big reasons we think we can do it is because the community is overwhelmingly behind the principles of the plan,” said Brett Brown, DeKalb Revitalization Plan project CEO of the business incubator.

Input was taken from somewhere between 300-400 people, Barnes said.