the fall of 2003, a group of forward-thinking individuals in
the community began a grass-roots effort to support and
enhance Spencerís strength as a cultural center. They
envisioned Spencer as a cultural and creative community that
attracted individuals and families to live, provided an
environment supportive of cultural workers, and strengthened
the economic base of the community through the arts and
early 2004, several economic development leaders and
representatives of Spencerís cultural organizations became
involved in efforts to attract Bogenrief Studios to Spencer.
As a result of those efforts, the Bogenriefs decided to locate
a blown-glass production and stained-glass showroom in the
former Post Office building downtown. People involved in that
effort saw creative people like the Bogenriefs as a new form
of economic development. Instead of ďchasing smokestacksĒ
like traditional economic development efforts, this new
cultural alliance wanted to build on the concept of leveraging
Spencerís strong tradition for culture and fine arts as a
way to attract new creative people to the community.
the summer of 2004, bylaws and articles of incorporation were
created for the organization, along with a new nameóSpencer
Alliance for a Creative Economy, or SPACE. A 13-member board
was chosen, with each board member representing a different
entity involved in economic development or culture within
Spencer. The SPACE board meets monthly to support existing
cultural organizations, develop cultural events, attract
cultural workers to live and work in the community, and
promote cultural offerings available in Spencer.
Although SPACE has been in existence only since
the summer of 2004, it has already accomplished several
Attracted Bogenrief Studios to Spencer.
- Obtained recognition as one of the first 8
state-certified Cultural Districts in Iowa.
- Partnered with Spencer Main Street to create a
new event, Mainstreet Market, that brought homegrown arts
and crafts and homegrown produce together with live music
during Thursday evenings in July and August 2005. The event was expanded in its second year to include more
exhibitors and more dates. In 2007, Mainstreet Market moved to the Courthouse square on West Fourth Street. In 2009, Mainstreet Market will run Thursdays from July 16 through August 13.
- Published Conflagration: The Great Spencer
Fire of 1931, a book by Spencer native Julie Schmidt
chronicling the fire that resulted in Spencerís unique
Art Deco business district.
- Successfully recruited Tony Curiel to relocate
from Michigan to Spencer, purchasing the former Reynolds
School building to become the Curiel School for the Visual
- Initiated a program to commission public works of art in Spencer.