Friends Society of Destination District Centres

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Changing how the foundation serves North America's leading communities.*

Over the 30 year history of the association, the 7 Arts Foundation has worked on projects in many communities. Everywhere our trainers, instructors and advisors go, they tend to make friends for the Membership. In fact, because the work is so arcane in nature, so demanding in scope, the Membership rises and falls with each generation of progressive city managers, city councils, and the sometimes uncertain fortunes of community chests.

The Volunteer Staff approached some savvy organizational thinkers about how to sustain the operating foundation in good times and bad. Since only a handful of communities can commit to long-term advisory and training services, we were advised in 2000 to form an affordable alternative, The Friends Society.

The Friends Society | Sustaining the Work


When the board of advisors looked over the books for the association, it became clear that only 45% of training costs were covered by fees and reimbursements, only 60% of instructional costs were covered by subsriptions and tuitions and only 72% of advisory and consultative costs were covered by fees and per diems.

The deficits were always managed and paid for by Dr. Thomas and his Thos. Illustration Studio. Upon his semi-retirement from administering the assocation, the board of advisors determined to underwrite the operating and partnering costs of the operating foundation by forming a Friends Society.

Please watch this page for developments that are designed to re-shape and re-formulate how the 7 Arts Foundation serves North America's progressive communities.

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*   See the BH150 and other statistical reports that substantiate our claim that cities and towns with established or emerging arts, design or culture-based destination districts are counted among the leading U.S. MSAs in numerous categories important to job growth, retention of critically important workers, schooling outcomes, population growth...

Friends of the Destination District Centres

On every continent, in cities, towns and villages, there are individuals as well as groups of people who share one common interest – their undeniable love of destination districts.

Now, in an endeavour to bring those people closer together, a new organisation has been established providing a central forum for enthusiasts and collectors, students and researchers, practitioners and advocates alike to exchange ideas and information, harness knowledge and chat about their favourite subject. That forum is called, quite simply, Friends of the Destination District Centres.

The new organisation is also designed to provide valuable ongoing support to the 7 Arts Foundation, long recognised as the leading collection of destination district scholarship and resources. In total, more than 425 emerging and established destination district records are held in the Treasury by the Board of Advisors together with a enormous range of historically important data and correspondence about social and political, cultural tourism and business life in these downtown treasures.

Whilst an integral part of the 7 Arts Foundation’s activities, The Friends Society is administered by a Voluntary Committee under the chairmanship of TBN. The Membership Secretary is TBN.

To complete your Friends membership application online, click here. To renew your Friends membership, click here.

The 7 Arts Foundation collection is due to open to the public in the winter in two locations and will contain one of the largest displays of 150 years of destination district history. The contents will include items from the North America collection, more than 5,000 documents and items of correspondence, plus a design collection including works by iMAGIQ Works and the Colossal Concepts Consortium.

The new Treasury’s reference library, research and education rooms will provide a learning experience embracing all abilities and providing access to ensure that everybody can enjoy the heritage of destination district treasures. The training room will be available to formal classes, life-long learners and specialist developers, financiers, urban planners, advocates, artists and designers. The Treasury space aims to be a centre of excellence and learning.

The Board plans to hold special events in the future such as master classes, lectures, and family and community events. It will also be the home of the Friends of Destination Districts Media Labs.

Visitors to both  Illinois and Texas centres will benefit from the broad range of existing amenities, including boutique shopping facilities, a café, WCs, a Friends Lounge and extensive car and coach parking.

We look forward to welcoming you to the new centres in the near future.

Being A Friend

There are many advantages of being a Friend of the Destination Districts Cetnres. In particular, all members will enjoy...

Unlimited free entry to the Centres
Membership card
Priority Booking for Centre Events
Private view to Special Exhibitions

Corporate Membership

Corporate members will enjoy all the benefits of ordinary membership plus…

Free Centres' entry for four named company staff or guests
Special rates for Educational/Seminar room hire
Company name on the National roll of honour/support board in the Centres


Patrons will enjoy all the benefits of ordinary and corporate membership plus…

Name displayed on the International Patrons board in the Museum

Invitation to exclusive annual International Patrons events

To complete your Friends membership application online, click here.


‘Arts Answers“, the official newsletter of the Friends of Destination Districts, is published once every quarter and every edition is available in both hard copy form and in a downloadable format. This exacting publication is compiled and edited by Friends Membership Secretary, TBN, to whom any interesting news, views, comments and questions should be submitted -

2007 Arts Answers

Contact Details

Friends is a new organisation designed to provide valuable ongoing support to the Destination District Centres, the 7 Arts Foundation’s long recognised collections of urban destination district treasures. In total more than 5,000 rare copies of documents, photographs, maps and surveys, assessments and reports are held in the Treasury by the Destination District Centres Board of Advisors together with a enormous range of historically important correspondence about social, political and business life in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Whilst an integral part of the Centres' activities, Friends is administered by a Voluntary Committee under the chairmanship of TBN.

All postal, telephone and email enquiries should be addressed to...

7 Arts Foundation
Friends of the Destination District Centres
14 Azalea | Texarkana | TX 75501

Texarkana, TX 75501

Telephone: 7AF new all points number: 903.831.9219| M-Th 11-4 CST; Sa. 11-12N CST.

Fax: 309.343.7574


To complete your Friends membership application online, click here.

To renew your Friends membership online, click here.

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Annual Staff Honors for Our 7 Arts Foundation Friends & Sponsors, Associates & Colleagues 

  • 1979 | Dr. Walter Baird, Baird Corporation
  • 1980 | John Buttrick, M.I.T.
  • 1981 | Suzanne Claire Villee, Water Music
  • 1982 | Rudolf Schlegel, Plymouth Philharmonic
  • 1983 | Patricia Bronwen Brown, Music Merchants Clearinghouse
  • 1984 | Tracy Shue, Riverwalk Arts Festival
  • 1985 | Tim Grumbacher, Bon-Ton Department Stores
  • 1986 | Georgette Eveland, Kiosk Studios
  • 1987 | Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner Smith
  • 1988 | Matt Fogelman, York College
  • 1989 | Ruth E. Anderson | YorkArts
  • 1990 | Ralph Brooks | Bon-Ton Foundation
  • 1991 | Ted Leigh, Arts Discovery Center
  • 1992 | Art Schmitt, E.L.C.A.
  • 1993 | Julie Hoppensteadt, Signature Recording Industries
  • 1994 | First Folio Shakespeare Company
  • 1995 | Shelley Bhuyan, Rothscild Recordings
  • 1996 | Greg Witherspoon, E.L.C.A.
  • 1997 | David Chorlton, Artist-Poet
  • 1998 | Edward Opstein, Negotiations Expert
  • 1999 | Nancy Livingstone, A.M.A.
  • 2000 | Marilyn Gibson, GM Solutions
  • 2001 | Mark Glenn, A.I.A.
  • 2002 | Ray Abernathy, Abernathy Company
  • 2003 | Kelly Hale, Intern
  • 2004 | "Buddy" Abernathy, Abernathy Company
  • 2005 | Bethany Hannah, Main Street Texarkana
  • 2006 | Richard Abernathy, Abernathy Company
  • 2007 | Orville Stevens, E.L.C.A.
  • 2008 | Dr. Marshall A. Thomas III, Founder & Executive Director Emeritus, 7AF

Artwork courtesty of Thos. Illustration Studio, a Modern Masterworks Gallery presentation. All rights reserved.

Planning to better serve North America's Progressive Communities

Join the Friends.  "After all, we are what we believe when we give, and nothing more." Dr. Marshall Thomas '00 Address 

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Planning is underway in Texas and Illinois to establish a Friends Society worthy of the work of dedicated theorists, practioners and support staff. The object of the Friends Society is direct and simple: Help lower the Membership Costs and eliminate annual deficits. Thoughtful suggestions from the Members and Guests are welcome.

WHO WE SERVE: A Select list of governments, corporations, foundations, institutions, universities, studios - many of which avail themselves of our free access data, checklists, reports, etc, and ... more.


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