Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thoughts on the Forum: Growing the Creative Core

The late Pete Seeger said, “The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.”

I think learning about the creative projects that a handful of people are organizing in Downtown Albuquerque sets a positive tone for the direction we’re moving in. The forum at 516 ARTS was a terrific gathering of people and ideas. The turnout for Heart of the City events speaks well to the community’s interest and concern for our urban center. We are creating a buzz and momentum, which I hope we can continue to grow beyond the Heart of the City project.

That said, during Megan Kamerick’s interview with some of the panelists on KNME- TV’s In Focus, she asked me under her breath if there would be any decision makers at the forum so we’re not just “preaching to the choir.” Her comment stuck in my mind, as I did have the feeling at the forum that we were a group of arts supporters sharing our work and ideas with one another, In order to take this momentum to the next level, we need to organize around how we work with our elected officials and people who are making decisions about Albuquerque planning.

I think we need to learn to speak the language of the decision makers and engage in constructive dialogue with them about the future. Otherwise, the arts will remain marginalized and not taken seriously by government and business as a true building block of economic development. Some of the money we need to help fulfill the dreams and potential for the arts in Albuquerque’s growth and Downtown’s redevelopment could ultimately be generated by arts advocates persistently engaging in dialogue with the decision makers, who were not at the forum.

Who in our community can serve as intermediaries between the arts and government/business interests?

How can we educate government and business leaders about the true value of the arts for our community’s cultural and economic well-being?

How can we educate ourselves about their concerns so we can engage in intelligent dialogue with them about the future?

And how can we “find the optimistic stories and let them be known”?
–Suzanne Sbarge

Executive Director, 516 ARTS

See footage from Growing the Creative Core here thanks to Benito Aragon from New Mexico 
Mercury.

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