Art, almost any artist will tell you, should not be rushed. So, too, the continuing evolution of the downtown arts campus.
That unhurried process took another step forward Thursday as the Fort Wayne Parks Board approved an agreement that would give Arts United the option to purchase two strips of land in Freimann Square. Those parcels could be used to expand the Arts United Center to the north and west, adding much-needed space for classrooms, performance areas and offices. Freimann's plaza, flower beds and fountains – and the statue of Gen. Anthony Wayne – would not be affected.
The proposal still needs to be approved by the City Council, and arts planners say the details of such an addition to the center are far from set. The organization, which depends on private community support, must focus first on renovations to the present structure, designed by world-renowned architect Louis Kahn more than four decades ago.
The expansion, though, is one more piece of Arts United's careful effort to integrate improvements to its campus with the rest of downtown redevelopment. Extending the arts center and more of its activities into Freimann Square could be one way to reduce illicit activities there as the city tries to improve “walkability,” not just within the arts campus but to and from such coming attractions as The Landing and the Riverfront Promenade.
Arts United's planning process has been long and open-ended, with lots of opportunities for input from people and other organizations. That's a good way to build support – and to help build a better downtown.