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The Downtown Action Team and the city of Albuquerque are launching the first phase of developing a cultural plan.

Downtown Albuquerque was authorized as an arts and culture district by the state of New Mexico and awarded $35,000 earlier this year by the state.

The effort now begins with a visit by a resource team that will lead a series of focus groups to collect data during three days of formal and informal discussions starting Oct. 20. They will then present their findings in a public meeting on Oct. 22 at The Box performance space, 100 Gold Ave. SW, at 11:45 a.m.

The New Mexico Arts and Cultural District program was established in 2007 by the Legislature and Gov. Bill Richardson to create market niches in downtowns, based on arts and culture.

Silver City and Las Vegas were the first communities to receive the designations. The effort is a collaboration among three state agencies: Economic Development, Tourism and Cultural Affairs.

The resource team will include the director of New Mexico Mainstreet, which focuses on economic development in downtowns, and will also include nine other officials from New Mexico as well as two others involved in urban arts and cultural districts in other states, said Chris Goblet, assistant director of DAT.

The team will look at what exists in Downtown, what partnerships are there, what gaps need to be filled and draft recommendations. A cultural planner that DAT will hire with the $35,000 will use that information to conduct one-on-one interview with business owners, residents and other Downtown stakeholders and develop a cultural plan to be presented to the Albuquerque City Council.

Goblet said the effort will dovetail well with the Downtown 2020 plan for revitalization.

For more information on the resource team meetings, call Goblet at (505) 660-2951, or Sherri Brueggemann at the city’s Public Art Department at (505) 768-3833.