Monday, May 14, 2007

Isn't the theme park artist important too?

A local director and teacher spoke to me with confusion about what we meant when we say we want to increase participation in the region. He mentioned that he thought the research conducted revealing that 11% of our households participate in arts and culture was not inclusive enough.

He thought it was discriminating against the artists that work at the theme parks and other visitor attractions. Were we doing a disservice by not including that participation in our research? Does not the artist that works in the theme parks also count in our analysis of participation?

I was surprised by his reaction, but he said he knew several artists that felt a little slighted. After explaining the premise of the research, it was clearer to him what the data supported. He did ask why we didn't include audiences that visit the theme parks in our data as they participate as audience members for our artists employed at these attractions. We didn't measure the audiences at the parks because our research was about local participation and didn't include visitors. That is a different set of data.

Our conversation did remind me how our community is truly unique as we have such a dynamic artist community and yes many of them make a living performing or painting at the theme parks. Many of those same artists also perform and paint within the region at more traditional venues too. We clearly have no shortage of talented artists. Truly this is part of the motivation behind measuring the participation at a local level from our greater community. We know how much talent we have and want more people in the region to notice it too.

We want the parks to be filled with visitors and our local arts destinations to have full houses and galleries and museums to be over flowing with people. A region identified for its cultural destinations, whether pop, traditional or progressive. It can't happen soon enough.