LETTER: Arts should be a driving force for the community

Feb. 13, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

To the Editor:

Bob Joyce of the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce wrote in Chamber Chat about the arts. He asked the question, "How important is public art [to] economic development?" He answered it with this, "In a recent study of highly compensated technology workers by global business consulting firm KPMG, they found that 'a vibrant arts and culture scene' was the second most important factor (just below salary) in judging the attractiveness of a new job — more important than benefits, stock options or company stability. The arts, combined with more traditional quality-of-life factors including safe neighborhoods, good schools, strong infrastructure and accessible recreational and outdoor attractions, help to create more viable, desirable and livable communities. Additionally, the study found that arts promoted teamwork and team building, advanced visual skills, may help increase standardized test scores and encourage problem-solving — all necessary elements for a productive and self-sufficient workforce."

We in Lee County have seen how fracking is being pushed on us. I challenge Commissioner Jim Womack to campaign for the arts as much as he is pushing fracking. Fracking will be detrimental to our infrastructure. It will be bad for our environment, and it definitely will be bad for our pride in our community. The arts would have a far gentler impact on our infrastructure and create many more jobs for the long term, along with contributing to our culture and education for a higher quality of living for all.

When we left Alaska, we traveled more than 45,000 miles to small cities in the U.S. looking for a place that we could call home. We were repeatedly drawn to cities or towns that had a vibrant arts community. Those towns were wonderful to visit, and they each had a culture all their own. Lee County has the opportunity to make arts a driving force. We must see to it that our elected officials work for us and not against us in making this a desirable community to live.

Jeanne Rhea