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Give us your 21 cents worth | Art Town


Last updated 5/31/2018 at Noon

Arguably, the arts are what define us and hold our place in history.

But is it that debatable, really? How would we understand ancient Romans or the Ming Dynasty without the sculpture, architecture, literature or music they left behind?

For the record, I don’t think most people have strong opinions about it. They are busy working and making dinner every night. People don't spend much time arguing about the validity of art.

Either their eyes light up when they see something they like, or they scoff when they see something they don’t like.

I recently attended a wonderful concert at the Edmonds Center for the Arts that left the crowd buzzing with excitement. As I stepped out of the building, I saw people appreciating the light installation in the asphalt embedded onto Fourth Avenue North.

It was glowing in all its glory, creating bright spots patterning the surface of the street from the ECA to Main Street. I overheard a gentleman ask his companion what it was he was looking at and, upon her reply, merely scoffed and said, “I want my money back.”

Being an overly enthusiastic artist type, it crushed my happy moment. I’ve been thinking about it, and truly debated whether to mention it in this column. But it proves a point. Each of the 42,000 citizens of Edmonds is out 21 cents for this particular installation.

This begs the question.

If he had the choice, would this man rather have the spare change back in his pocket, or would he keep the thing there to give him that moment of choice? Is it worth less than a quarter to have a fleeting moment of discovery and opinion?

On a larger scale, do the citizens of Edmonds feel that art installations, concerts in the parks, murals on the sides of buildings, and events like the Edmonds Arts Festival give them a better quality of life?

The real estate agents in town often post pictures of our charming downtown in their listings to show prospective buyers this is a great place to live. Do the artsy touches add to real estate values? If we were having a debate about it, I would argue they do.

I would argue that it is better to nurture culture than to stifle it. The expectation can never be to please everyone. Let us instead provide that moment, when viewing a work of art or experiencing a cultural event, for each of us to decide for ourselves.

It is the teachable moment to share with a young child, or a place to rest your eyes when enjoying a cup of coffee. It is the moment when you come upon an unexpected detail that makes you feel you are exploring a place.

On June 7, the citizens of Edmonds will have an opportunity to weigh in on this issue.

The city of Edmonds has been seeking out ways to be recognized as a destination for the arts, and has decided to throw our hat in the ring to become recognized by the state of Washington as an official Creative District.

It is a rigorous application process.

City staffers Frances Chapin and Patrick Doherty are spearheading the process. Two weeks ago they hosted an initial meeting to gather opinion from people in town who represent the arts and related entities.

These stakeholders will be instrumental in moving the vision of the Creative District to a positive outcome. I was fortunate to be there to see about 30 people passionately discussing goals for our community.

I was so impressed that the discussions touched on the need to address diversity and the needs of children and teens and elders, as well as business retention and affordable housing. These all provide the foundation for the arts to flourish. But I would argue these goals also provide the foundation for people to flourish.

If cultivating these aspects of our community helps us to attain the designation of a Creative District, then count me in.

The next big piece of the puzzle to attain this goal is to gather more viewpoints and citizen support. If you are one of those rare people who would actually take the time to argue in favor of art and culture, this is your moment.

If you cannot make the evening open house, email Patrick Doherty at patrick.doherty@edmondswa.gov or Frances Chapin at francis.chapin@edmondswa.gov with your comments.

They would love to hear your opinion. They are hoping to put together a great application on behalf of our art town the state of Washington cannot deny.


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