Ada officials hope new center leads to cultural arts district

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ADA, Okla. -- It all started with the construction of the $27 million Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center, expected to open in 2008. Now with help from a $220,000 USDA grant, officials plan on making the center an anchor for an arts and cultural district.

It's an idea they've been tossing around for some time now, and although it won't happen overnight, it's definitely a part of the university's master plan.

A team made up of East Central University officials, the Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Authority, and the Chickasaw Nation has plans to turn East Main into a cultural center with open air cafes, art studios, music stores, software design companies, and craft stores.

They say they hope the center will bring more jobs and tourist dollars to the area. Developers also envision an arts incubator where companies can grow their business.

"What it will do is give indirect opportunity to see fine arts, get cultural side of arts provide tourists and community members that opportunity," said East Central University president Richard Rafes.

The first step is to get the community involved. Officials are organizing public meetings to hear citizens' input and ideas.

The USDA grant is for two years. By that time, officials hope to have a firm blueprint in place.

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