Monday, September 21, 2009
A sustainable community is one that goes beyond the bounds of just being sensitive to the environment. Local economic development, a high-yielding agricultural base, strong schools, long-term municipal planning, the list goes on. Throw one more in the mix: a thriving and inclusive arts scene.
This morning, I was interviewed by a consultant working with the Sakonnet Arts Network on the development of their long-term organizational and program strategy. The consultant, Jim, was talking with folks around town to gauge their opinions on the community, their need for and use of local arts programming, and how the Sakonnet Arts Network could be a partner in promoting and solidifying a strong arts “backbone”.
It was a great conversation and I walked away thinking about those elements of the human experience that have the ability to rise above those things that tend to (unfortunately) define us and place us into certain boxes: Status, title, zip code, emblem on your car, etc. The arts – whether they be visual or performing – are one of those elements that brings people together and levels the playing field.
That led me to think about how that ability to rise above shallow definitions is just the thing that a truly sustainable community needs. A vibrant arts program helps bring color, shape, sound, and voice to our neighborhoods, our schools, and various other meeting places around town. It unifies rather than separates; it slows us down just long enough to take in the best in human self-expression and creativity; it gives external form to the formless inner experience.
I hope that those at the Sakonnet Arts Network are able to capitalize on all the input being gathered from around town and realize their goals.
(P.S., Maybe one of our vacant elementary schools could even be transformed into a new home base for them! It would be a shame to lose those buildings and locations to yet another trivial real estate development.)