Friday, February 6, 2009

Creative Energy: a Pleasant surprise

We all know times are tough. They're tough for everyone. Initially when I heard the news about CCA's budget potentially being slashed, I was extremely disheartened. Then this week when the infestimal portion of President Obama's stimulus package for the National Endowment for the Arts came up on the chopping block, I became further discouraged. When, I thought to myself, will people begin to realize that arts jobs are real jobs that contribute to the economy? We are an industry, like any other. You wouldn't know it from reading the news, which featured slanderous tidbits like:
"The National Endowment for the Arts, for example, is in line for $50 million, increasing its total budget by a third. The unemployed can fill their days attending abstract-film festivals and sitar concerts." - National Review Editorial

"I just think putting people to work is more important than putting more art on the wall of some New York City gallery frequented by the elite art community." [U.S. Rep Jack] Kingston said. "Call me a sucker for the working man." - Congressional Quarterly report
So while I knew hosting a listening session to discuss the potential budet cuts to the CCA was the necessary thing to do, I was not sure what to expect. To be perfectly honest, I imagined the event was going to be, well, depressing.

For the first time in months, a conversation about a severe economic challenge became an inspiring, invigorating and motivating exchange of creative ideas. Thursday, it turns out, was a really good day. We started the day with a special session with representatives from Colorado Springs City Council, Manitou Springs City Council, the EDC, the Chamber, Colorado Springs Cultural Services and the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Everyone there spoke eloquently and at length about the importance of embracing our arts and cultural community. Then about 50 people showed up for the lunch-time CCA listening session. Elaine Mariner and Maryo Ewell from the Colorado Council on the Arts were there to lead the discussion. Many CCA grantees were in the room, but there were also a number of concerned citizens.

As The Gazette accurately reported Friday, the session was energizing. I welcomed it, and the creative energy of all the people in the room.

Follow it up with Friday's night electrifying opening of Atomic Elroy's show, Hometown at the FAC Modern and COPPeR's open house, and this busy little bee was all abuzz with creativity. Here's hoping we can continue to carry that energy through the coming months.

We're going to need it.

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