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Final ideas pitched for Realize Bradenton

BRADENTON — Even as the Realize Bradenton task forces were applying final touches to their master cultural plan, new ideas continued to be offered.

About 40 people gathered Thursday at the Bradenton Municipal Auditorium for a final brainstorming session of the eight-month process of developing an arts, culture and heritage plan to invigorate downtown.

The “Muracale on Ninth Street” was presented as a possible project by the Public Arts Task Force.

The idea is to encourage the painting of murals on buildings along Ninth Street from the foot of the Green Bridge to McKechnie Field.

For example, the back side of the South Florida Museum faces Ninth Street West “and people driving don’t have any idea what’s happening on the other side of the wall,” said task force facilitator Bernie Crogham.

Crogham, whose office building, the ComCenter, on Third Avenue West and U.S. 41 has a sculpture park, said similar murals could be painted on ArtCenter Manatee, Jake’s Automotive, the Monk Building and others along the gateway avenue going through Bradenton.

Thursday was the final public forum held before Bill Bulick, a cultural arts planning consultant, completes the master plan, which will provide recommendations on using the arts, culture and heritage of the area as an economic engine.

Bulick, president of Creative Planning in Portland, Ore., said the arts and culture can work together with the business community to bring about a synergy.

“It’s a package,” he said.

Bulick was hired through a $234,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to develop the plan that integrates arts and culture into the revitalization and economic development of Bradenton.

“I’m very optimistic,” said Kathleen Richardson, who has lived in Bradenton for 11 years and plays the flute in a performance group. “This plan sounds like it might make it.”

Barbara Ellen, a former actress who lives downtown along the Manatee River, agreed.

“It’s like fireworks,” Ellen said. “You light it first, then the fireworks go off.”