MT. VERNON — — Work begins now on making the city a destination for the region by redefining creativity. “We want this place cool, fun and engaging for everyone,” said Roger Brooks of Destination Development International, who facilitated the branding. “It will be modern, engaging for younger people but something older people will enjoy.” This place is The Broadway Market, which will be located at the former Armory building. Brooks said when discussing an attraction to begin the effort to create a destination, it was decided to make “an awesome public market.” “A large one, so good that people from the region will come here and the local residents enjoy,” Brooks said. “We started talking about where, and we ended up touring the Armory. That is the coolest building, ever. ... You have an area for a plaza and events outside, and can use the stage for entertainment.” Brooks explained The Broadway Market will be made up of 50 percent locally crafted arts, goods and gifts, 25 percent locally produced farm goods and 25 percent locally prepared foods. Once operational, the market would be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays, 49 weeks of the year. “This is not a ‘made in China’ place, not a flea market,” Brooks said. “This is a place where there are creative items being sold with entertainment.” Brooks said the outside ring of offices in the building also lends to artists studios, workshops, demonstrations and class areas. “We want to build an art community,” Brooks said. He added that many things make up art, and art needs to be redefined. He said some of the special events and showings that could be offered at The Broadway Market are a wine festival with Southern Illinois wineries; a motorcycle showcase; classic cars shown; cars and cruisers challenge; ice carving event; Santa’s workshop or winter wonderland; quilter’s festival; pottery guild; sculpture showcase; jazz festival with events at the market and throughout the city; boat shows; fishing and hunting shows; nature shows with taxidermy, photography and outdoor art; a woodcarvers show, garden show; auctions; a dog and cat show; kids festival; or even a microbrewery. “These don’t have to be all produced and organized here,” Brooks said. “You can have others bring their shows and events here. You already have a ton of small one or two day festivals. You just have to invite people to hold their festivals here.” Brooks said to that end, there should be arts incubators which encourage people who are creative to move forward with their crafts. Art will also need to be re-defined. He said motorcycle artists, people who do woodworking, sewing, gardening, all create art. Brooks said the brand is more about a feeling that is created, not a slogan or logo. The group did create a brand promise: “Celebrating creativity through a series of festivals and a vibrant downtown market.” “We want the feeling to be that Mt. Vernon is the Midwest’s festival city,” Brooks said. Brooks said to make the brand and direction for the city succeed, it needs to have champions to be part of the brand leadership team. “Now we need people who will lead the charge,” Brooks said. Those people need to be the champions and be enthusiastically behind the direction; willing to commit two to four hours per month for the first year; assist for two to three years with the effort; have good speaking skills and enthusiasm; not be politically divisive in the community; “willing to take some hits” as not everyone will agree; be a “brand cop” and protect the brand and the feeling it creates; be a part of a steering committee to keep track of the work to do, which includes signs for wayfinding of attractions; push the agenda forward; and will not take no for an answer. “Every successful brand started with people who have these traits,” Brooks said. “With this idea, with people who move it forward, this has a 100 percent chance of success.” The group that worked on the branding included Mary Ellen Bechtel, Bonnie Jerdon, Angela Shrum, Rex Cusumano, Kevin Settle, Sharon Bradham, Laura Thacker, Cyndy Mitchell, Casey Cunningham, Brandon Bullard and Mary Jane Chesley.
The Broadway Market to be created as destination attraction for region
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