I moved to Asheville in 1996 and saw a city in transition. Many buildings were still boarded up and unused. Since then, I have seen huge growth, to the delight of some (and the chagrin of others). I saw folks coming from all over the country to Asheville, and bringing with them money from other places, to invest here.
The real-estate industry was quick to realize that the arts are a draw by which houses can be sold, because art and culture ensure a vibrant and exciting quality of life. But what of the creative people who make art everyday? How do they benefit from the growth of Asheville? How have the arts been recompensed for the contribution made to the growth of our region?
And are we now leveraging the arts to attract large businesses to the area? And if we are, then how are we ensuring that the creative entrepreneurs and the artists are thriving as well as other markets have done?
I hope that in 2012 we will see a comprehensive approach to generating economic development through the arts. I would like to see every contractual opportunity generated by federal, state, county and municipal funds contain a portion and/or opportunity for the local arts and artists. I would like to see an endowment that provides a sustainable ongoing revenue stream to support creative endeavors. I would like to see intelligent economic-development initiatives that build the capacity of our creative small businesses and weave them thoroughly into the process of growth. I would like to see creative industry strategically build an alliance that represents all aspects of the arts: individuals, nonprofits, for-profits and government.
Funds invested in the arts locally are funds that build beauty, heritage, identity, meaning and community. Art brings unlimited perspective, the voice of the unknown and a mirror that reflects the infinite. Art tells us who we are.
For more about the AAAC, visit http://ashevillearts.com