My talk on “Transforming Urban Communities Through the Arts” was very well received at the Arlington Council meeting yesterday. City Council President Clay Yarborough acknowledged the importance of public-private partnerships and several attendees encouraged him (and the entire council) to support The ARTery. Here is a small excerpt from that talk.
Some consider Jacksonville to be a cultural city. But do we really believe it? Do we provide enough support our arts institutions and artists? Over 2,500 individuals in our community consider themselves professional artists or performers. We have many fine institutions. Do you have a piece of art work from a local artist hanging in your home or office? Have you been to MOCA? MOSH? Players by the Sea? The Florida Theatre?
Jacksonville is a place for collaboration with efforts such as Cultural Fusion, Any Given Child, JAX2025, and more, but there is much work to be done.
When we come together to create something then anything is possible. Egos, turfs, the silo mentality, possessiveness, and a focus on “what’s in it for me” must be set aside in the interest of the greater good. The right place and collaboration are necessary ingredients to establish an arts hub, but we need more.
We need more support for artists in developing their careers. Workshops on the business of the arts and how to market yourself as an artist. We need arts cash mobs visiting the galleries and art studios to purchase art that can’t be found in the bargain bin at WalMart.
We need more college students serving as mentors for aspiring young artists in our schools. Not just in DA, Episcopal, and Bolles or other schools with thriving arts programs, but in EVERY school.
We need more professional artists serving as mentors for those college students. Teaching their craft, sharing what they have learned, and passing on their knowledge.
We need businesses that are forward thinking and include the arts in designing their spaces and workplace environments. Businesses that embed arts and culture and creativity in their DNA.
We need community members of all ages to step outside their comfort zone and try new things. Visit new places. Sign up for classes. Cross the ditch. Travel to other parts of town and other cities to experience and support arts and culture.
And we need more strategic partnerships between colleges, businesses, government entities, K-12 schools, pre-K programs, artists, and arts institutions to create something radically different that best meets the needs of our community.
The arts stand at the intersection of creativity and innovation! Arts education can improve student achievement, increase our job satisfaction, help revitalize our neighborhoods and act as a crucible for innovative ideas.
A small investment of less than$3 million dollars in 21 arts and cultural institutions last year resulted in $58 million dollars in support for the local economy! Over 51,000 visitors from outside Jacksonville came to our city for One Spark and helped contribute $1.8M to our local economy. The arts build 21st century skills for our children (creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking). Hundreds of research studies show that the arts help students succeed, but the anecdotal evidence is just as compelling. Ask the students who have participated in arts classes how they have impacted their lives and you will hear some amazing answers.
Read my CALL TO ACTION tomorrow!