Monday, September 21, 2009

The Arts: A Unifying Force



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.)

4 comments:

Ginger said...

Bill -- I would love to see this beautifully written commentary in the Sakonnet Times ... letter to the editor for this one?
On a broader note ... what about a column in the Sakonnet Times? Once a week or once a month. Your ideas are worth more public notice then your blog ...

Ginger said...

Qualifier ... your blog is great. I enjoy reading it often. That last sentence needs to be worded a bit better ...

Your ideas are worth a broader public audience then your blog might provide.

BILL GERLACH said...

Hi Ginger,

I appreciate the words of support; I'll look into the Letter to the Editor for this post.

I wished you have stopped me at the Library event to introduce yourself!

Ginger said...

I saw you moving around, collecting info and being the wonderfully involved person you are. I am sure we will meet up at another town gathering of sorts. I know the November 30th school meeting on What to do with Ranger and Nonquit schools will be interesting. --- Sakonnet Arts as well as other regional arts groups are certainly interested in the viability of one of the schools for an art center/community center. I can't speak to direct wishes but you might want to contact Carolyn Winter or Gloria Crist of Sakonnet Arts Network.

There are lots of possibilities in Tiverton now ... Library site, Sandywoods and a possible school ... somehow this all needs to come together and not be acted on separately.