Guest editorial: An open letter to Park City Council about the importance of art
April 27, 2018
Dear respected council members,
The work ahead of you in the next year is daunting. And the population you serve — from full time residents with families and single twenty somethings and the less-than-all-booming Boomers — is complicated. Despite the apparent wealth of beauty and great free public services and ease of movement — the residents and the part time residents all want more of much and less of some and the result is often an un-joyfull community.
There are so many moments in my job when I see the joy-full side of our community. When they gasp at the athleticism of a dancer defying gravity — when a performer hits a note that leaves the audience in awe … when a speaker makes them uncomfortable enough they have a breakthrough — right there in the theater — about a previously held assumption they are ready to reconsider.
We love all the moments when students come to shows and discover they really might love dance or a hip orchestra or the ability to ask their own question of a modern political legend. We love knowing for some folks of limited means, the nights they spend enjoying the arts — as our guests — are the most important nights all month for them. They dress up — even a bit — they are mingling with every strata of our community and they are seeing the same show in the same space as anyone else. For 20 years we have been witness to all this. And so much more. Students finding someone to hear them in a tiny space where they are being tutored for free. Students finding their voice on a red circle rug that becomes a TEDx stage and really, a global stage, sending their talks around the world to be discovered and praised.
The arts — as I see them — are an essential service. For mental health. For community building. For equalizing-if only for a few hours- how we see each other and share joy.
The case can be made the arts may be the future of our climate-changing town. The case could be made they are all about clean, renewable energy of human resources. The case could be made a vibrant arts and culture-based city is kinder and smarter and funnier and more creative in looking for all kinds of solutions to everyday problems.
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I know you all are investing in a space for the arts to thrive — which is terrific. I think the next chapter is where we see how to support what we value in the arts year round. How the arts weave into our conversations and our decision making and become a lens where the focus on an integrated community with a joy-full population is a resource our guests too, can count on.
Project ABC has done an amazing job in a short, directed time frame, to understand the landscape of the existing arts programs and the needs and desires of the residents for an increased arts presence. I would urge The City to embrace space to create an arts position and department as a full time part of our government. It is time.
I would urge you all to elevate arts and culture to a clear priority in a community that is becoming more angry and disconnected and disillusioned with each passing "unseasonal" month. The return on the resources extended — will add life to our lives.
And what could be a higher priority than that?
Note: Orr read this submission to the City Council at a recent work session.