THELMA: Recognized as economic catalyst for downtowns

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THELMA recognized as economic catalyst for downtowns

Two Wisconsin cities and officials in Madison are paying attention to what was accomplished in Fond du Lac – specifically the expansion and renovation of its downtown arts center.

Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts (THELMA) is on the map as a regional arts center and being touted as an example of how a thriving arts center can be a catalyst for economic development in downtowns, said THELMA Executive Director Kevin Miller.

Miller has given presentations recently in Sheboygan and Eau Claire. Representatives from both cities requested Miller speak about the privately funded renovation and expansion of THELMA and the process to develop an Arts and Entertainment District in downtown Fond du Lac.

“This is extremely gratifying because we have long felt that the expansion and renovation of THELMA and the creation of the arts and entertainment district is a game changer for the area,” Miller said.

Miller has also represented THELMA and the Wisconsin Arts Board, of which he is a Governor Scott Walker appointee, in Madison as he advocates for the Creative Economy Development Initiative. Miller recently testified before the Senate Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism Committee, and the Assembly Tourism Committee. Both committees have since passed the initiative.

The Creative Economy Development Initiative is a public/private partnership to leverage and grow assets and resources throughout Wisconsin. The Arts Board would administer the initiative in a 2:1 matching grant program.

The Initiative must go to the Joint Finance Committee and both the Senate and Assembly prior to being signed into law by Governor Walker.

“The bottom line is that an arts center means so much more to a community than the paintings on the walls,” Miller said. “Yes, it is a quality of life amenity but it also means economic development, tourism and jobs for the community.”

“This is a great gift for Fond du Lac,” Miller added.

THELMA is located at 51 Sheboygan St., in the heart of Downtown Fond du Lac’s Arts and Entertainment District.

THELMA is a member-based, privately-funded non-profit dedicated to providing experiences not readily available in the area. Intimate concerts in the Great Hall, street concerts with major performers, indoor and outdoor films, and art from world-renowned artists are available at THELMA. THELMA also offers a stunning backdrop for weddings, meetings and all social and corporate gatherings.

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