One of the best ways to create a sense of vitality in downtowns is to welcome the arts community with open arms.
To help give our talented artists exposure in downtown Winchester, we recently donated Bright Center's big front display window to the Shenandoah Arts Council for a revolving, ongoing, highly-visible art gallery. This has worked out well for everyone involved: Local artists get increased exposure to their work and the chance to make a little money; Shenandoah Arts Council offers increased value to the community and area artists; Old Town Winchester enhances its brand; and Bright Center's appearance is dramatically improved by turning a formerly empty window into one full of life, color and beauty.
With storefronts sitting empty in this tough market, perhaps now is the time to get imaginative and find ways to revitalize our communities through engaging our local artists. They typically can't pay much, but they can certainly bring in the vitality and beauty that makes towns and cities real Places again.