Identifying Plan Perceptions: Higher Education Institutions as Arts and Cultural Anchors

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City leaders easily recognize their local HEIs as economic anchors, often as part of an intentional “eds and meds” strategy. Universities have long been viewed by city governments as important arts and cultural patrons, presenters, and educators. However, it is not clear that local governments recognize HEIs as key players in arts and cultural economies to the fullest extent possible, nor that they see the possibilities for universities to act as arts and cultural anchors beyond their traditional roles. The local arts and cultural master plan is a key document in which we would expect to see city officials demonstrate this understanding and to advance strategies to capitalize on HEIs’ presence in their communities. Yet our analysis of these plans finds that they provide limited detail on and display a limited conceptualization of these institutions’ contributions to the city's arts scene and cultural economy, thereby missing important economic development opportunities.