by ML Dahl
August 02, 2004
Re the Arts Center project to locate downtown, I appreciate the arguments for and against the project. Some people doubt the economic viability of arts, but I must point out that art is big business all across the US. It is not just a bunch of community do-gooders, artsy-fartsy types doing their thing and pie-in-the-sky visions of a nicer place to live. Art attracts people, many willing to travel great distances and spend great sums of money in the process.
Art is 1 of only 2 reasons most people vacationing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, make the hot, dusty drive up to Todos Santos on the Baja Coast (Hotel California being the other reason). The Todos Santos galleries are famous and the tourists keep them in business year round. Art is the lifeblood of Centrum, in sleepy Port Townsend, Washington (population 5,000). It started from nothing and is now a famed national performing arts center which draws attendees and artists from all over the world. Centrum's calendar today offers a Writers's Conference, Bluegrass Festival, Printmaking Conference, High School Arts Conference, Jass Festival, Chamber Music Festival, Blues Festival, Dance Workshop and the original Fiddle Tunes Festival. People come from all over the world to teach, study and perform at these art events, providing a steady exchange of dollars for goods and services. Santa Fe, New Mexico put itself firmly on the map by building a thriving arts community. Other arts centers all over the US have had the same experience. Art is just good business! Ketchikan is in the right place at the right time for this to happen. I hope the town has enough wisdom to recognize this opportunity and go for it.
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