The arts are key to the region’s economic vibrancy, so it is imperative to keep the culture lively.
Today’s Horizon looks a little different than most Sundays as we turn over most of the section to further a discussion of one topic: sustaining the arts in our region.
The arts are not a frill, but as intrinsic to the vitality of our valleys as the mountains and forests that define Virginia’s Blue Ridge. We are blessed by both the natural wonders of place and the talents and creative wonders of our people and institutions. Artists and cultural organizations contribute value to our lives and make us more attractive to visitors and those seeking to do business here.
Contributing to the discussion of Visualizing the Arts:
Artist Katherine Devine in “Art’s not just a frill, its a profession,” writes:
I have been a working artist in the Roanoke Valley over the last 25 years, although my art career began with my first box of crayons. I had always loved to draw and thought everybody else did, too. I didn’t know there was a label for me. I learned that word in school . . . artist. I also learned I was different and special, and both encouraged and discouraged at the same time. Because as everyone knows, you can’t make a living as an artist.
Cyrus Pace, executive director of the Jefferson Center, in “Children find their voices, character and communion,” writes:
Just as great artists fight to stay connected to beauty and push off the mundane, it is this constant seeking that arts education instills in students. And each student is on his own journey. Some of those journeys are away from a disheartening level of parental disengagement. Some are simply trying to find a way out of poverty. And some are kids who want to find their voice. It is different for every child, and it is different for every teacher.
Creative thought happens everywhere. The truth is that creativity is no more likely to happen in the arts than other places.
George Anderson, former Mill Mountain Theatre board member, in “Welcome to where? A call for regional cooperation,” writes:
“We’re from Pittsburgh,” said one of the men at the restaurant table next to me.
“Welcome to Roanoke,” I replied.
“Thanks. Glad to discover the lost colony!”
That recent exchange reminded me of when we moved here 15 years ago, when many friends thought we were moving to Roanoke Island or Roanoke Rapids. How could this area be such a secret when similarly sized mountain cities like Asheville, N.C., and Chattanooga, Tenn., were better known? A five-minute drive from our new house took us downtown, with museums, restaurants and performing arts, while a five-minute walk took us to a trail to mountain hiking. Nearby was a baseball stadium in Salem with a mountain range as the backdrop for soaring home runs, Floyd with its music and crafts, the Blue Ridge Parkway with its Peaks of Otter, and Blacksburg with all that a university town has to offer.
Beverly T. Fitzpatrick Jr., executive director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation, in “Challenges of soliciting local government funding,” writes:
It’s tough to be a local government.
A diversity of people, needs and priorities, goals and dreams — it’s difficult for municipal leaders to allocate those scarce revenue dollars.
For the last several years, funding priorities were, of necessity, altered. There was a real urgency to care for pressing human needs: hunger, housing, health care and jobs. Some funding for “quality of life amenities” shifted to the bare bones of sustaining life.
Artist Ann Glover in “Art and the transformative power of collaboration” writes:
My life for the past several months has been a four-letter word: M-Y-T-H.
That’s also been the case for 20 other artists and interns, all of whom are collaborating with me this summer on a 40-foot totem comprising the word “myth” that’s being assembled for installation at the end of July at the Taubman Museum of Art.
While collaboration among creative types was once equated with “herding cats,” the making and exhibiting of art at every level is becoming increasingly collaborative.
Virginia Tech President Charles Steger in “Innovation is a shared endeavor between scientists and artists,” writes:
Much has been written about the positive economic impact from a vibrant arts scene. I trust that this community generally accepts the premise that the arts are good for business. The question posited by The Roanoke Times editors is not to demonstrate the value of the arts, but rather how do we, as a community, sustain the arts.
But first — I’m an educator. So let me underscore the importance of the arts in our community, in education and in our personal lives.