I am saddened and frustrated when I hear short sighted and uninformed comments about money and support for the arts being an unnecessary waste in Abbotsford. Nothing could be further from the truth!
The arts are a critical element in the development and maintenance of a vibrant, healthy community. The arts define a community’s identity, provide a legacy for tomorrow and honour the historic and cultural makeup of its citizens. The arts provoke thought and elicit response, discussion and community engagement. The arts offer opportunities to engage citizens as creators and audiences for the enrichment and development of all. The arts have the ability to break down barriers, cultivate a celebration of diversity, and build bridges and understanding between disparate groups. The arts have the ability to affect profound change in people’s lives, it can be the turning point for a better life for youth at risk, battered women, those battling personal challenges and addiction, and the underprivileged. The arts attract professionals to live and contribute essential services and expertise to our community, equally, the arts are accessible and enjoyable to citizens of the most modest of economic and social standing. The arts attract visitors and tourism dollars, and act as an ambassador for a community when those visitors return to their part of the globe. The arts help set the tone for the urban landscape and cultivates civic pride. The arts contribute substantial economic benefits, both directly and through spin off business, thereby helping to ensure an economically vibrant and sustainable future for our city.
Abbotsford’s arts and culture scene has been sadly lagging behind other aspects of community growth, but there is a twinkle of something starting to happen. While much of the visual and performing art going’s-on in our town are privately operated, there is a responsibility of municipal government to cultivate the arts as part of its community stewardship toward a vibrant and healthy community. And I’d say my list above indicates the arts offers a pretty big bang for our tax buck!
With the arts being historically an undervalued sector in this town, it’s time for anyone who sees the value of the arts to stand up and be counted! Be one of the many citizens of Abbotsford requesting municipal budget allocation, planning and policy support for the arts in this community.
At 3:00 PM on Monday, January 23, 2012, the Abbotsford Arts Council goes before the city to advocate for the Arts in Abbotsford.
All you have to do is show up and stand up! Show your support for the arts by simply being present in the audience during the presentation.
When the Arts Council President, Charles Wiebe, says “Who here supports the Arts?” All you need to do is stand up.
If you’re like me and can’t make it to the Council meeting, take 5 minutes to write, call, Facebook or email the mayor and council toproudly count yourself in as one of those standing up for the arts.
Your community will be richer for it.
Artist, UFV art student
Member, Abbotsford Arts Council
Patron of the arts