The Boman Fine Arts Center is one of the greatest prides of Forest City, and the city showed it off to the lieutenant governor Wednesday.
Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg toured the Boman Fine Arts Center in Forest City Wednesday morning as part of his 99-county tour.
“Gov. Reynolds and I each travel all 99 counties every year, and it gives us a great opportunity to understand the assets in all of our rural communities, to see what kind of momentum is building in our rural communities, and this is something that I’ve heard about and wanted to make it to,” Gregg said.
BFAC manager Dan May led the tour, which started in the lobby and went to the art gallery, the auditorium, backstage and into the backstage hallway where the changing rooms are.
“I think it went great,” May said. “It was fun. I enjoy showing off the space that we’ve got, and it was fun having him here.”
The BFAC was built because three major entities of the community – Waldorf University, the Forest City Community School District and the City of Forest City – came together, designed and built the facility.
“The biggest thing that I think that he took away and that we really wanted to stress was how the community came together to create this space, and it’s really unique that way,” May said.
While on the tour, Gregg also heard about the variety of events held at the BFAC, including the Iowa Supreme Court last year and various school plays and concerts.
At the end of the tour, Forest City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Norma Hertzer and Forest City Economic Development Director Beth Bilyeu gave Gregg a rundown on other recent developments in Forest City, including the Cobblestone Hotel and the North Iowa Area Community College Regional Academy.
Gregg said the way the fine arts center brings the community together to celebrate the arts is what makes it unique and impressive.
“When you think about all of the types of arts that this facility itself can help highlight – the art gallery out front, music performances both instrumental and vocal, plays, concerts for the community – all of that is made possible at a venue like this and because of the state of the art investments that they’ve made, it’s one of a kind,” he said.
In the future, Gregg said the facility can be a great meeting space and he thinks it would be a great venue for holding one of the Empower Rural Iowa Initiative meetings to talk about the work that’s going on in the rural communities.
“I can’t wait to come back,” he said. “First of all, I can’t wait till the pandemic is over, we can come back and maybe take in one of those performances at some point. I also see it as a great asset for potential meeting space down the road.”
One of the biggest takeaways for Gregg after touring the BFAC was the power in partnerships and what a community can do and create when it comes together.
“I don’t think any one entity could have pulled off a project of this scale, but when you have the university, you have community organizations, you have generous private donors who are willing to support something like this, you can pull it off and you can pull it off in rural Iowa, and what it becomes then is a magnet and it creates this virtuous cycle of folks coming into the community,” he said.
From touring the fine arts center, Gregg said his other big takeaway was knowing grants like the Community Attraction and Tourism Grant play a big role in helping rural communities build facilities and community assets like the Boman Fine Arts Center.
“I think having an understanding that that is something that is useful in our rural communities, this is a very successful example of how it’s been put to use and we can do more of that and continue that,” he said.
Gregg said the Boman Fine Arts Center was one of the best fine arts center facilities he’s seen across the state so far.
“I can’t think of a better facility at this point,” he said. “I’m sure there are other very good facilities across the state, but I can’t think of one that is higher tech and more first-rate than this one, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to come back someday soon.”
Grace Zaplatynsky covers Hancock and Winnebago counties. You can reach her at Grace.Zaplatynsky@GlobeGazette.com or by phone at 641-421-0534.
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