Did you attend “The Role of the Arts in Economic Development” panel? What did you think? Do you have further questions, or answers to suggest? Please let me know in the comments. –MikeA
The regional arts community wants answers.
The questions, articulated with urgency, weren’t new. How does a community sustain the arts financially over the long term, where does the funding come from, who deserves to receive it? How do you battle the perception that arts aren’t essential? Will localities in Roanoke and the New River Valley band together to promote the arts as part of their brand, and if so how?
Wednesday morning, those question were posed to and raised by the five panelists at a roundtable discussion, part of the ongoing Executive Discussion Series co-sponsored by The Roanoke Times and Cox Business. The panel, “The Role of the Arts in Economic Development,” attracted the largest crowd in the two-year history of the series, with about 135 attending the breakfast meeting at the Sheraton Roanoke Hotel and Conference Center.
Moderator Connie Stevens of public radio station WVTF-FM noted that the audience was made up almost entirely of stakeholders: artists, representatives from nonprofits, government officials, university faculty.
The panelists were Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill; former Taubman Museum of Art CEO and President David Mickenberg; Ruth Waalkes, executive director of the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech; Amy Moorefield, director of the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University; and Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission Executive Director Wayne Strickland. These heavy hitters didn’t have specific answers to many of the sweeping questions placed on the table, though often they brought up issues of their own.
“I hope this is the beginning of a broader conversation on why we support the arts and what it takes to support the arts,” Mickenberg said.
This past Sunday, we published a preview of the roundtable in which the five panelists provided written answers to questions about the role of the arts in regional economic development. Click here to read those interviews.