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Picture a rekindling for the arts

July 23, 2009

I write to my fellow arts advocates. Which means you. If you picked up this copy of The Rock River Times and are taking the time to read through these lines, then you have already proven yourself an invested, valuable supporter of the Rockford arts scene. These thoughts go out to all of you, regardless of profession or affiliation. I may be preaching to the choir here, but as I go through my own struggles and epiphanies in the arts world, I’d like to share them, just in case they help to rekindle any of your fires for the arts.
Over the last year, I’ve attended some arts-oriented meetings around town, in the personal interest of understanding and speaking to the economic viability of Rockford’s live music scene. I’m realizing more and more that to promote not only my own art, but the arts as a whole, I could stand to do more “showing” and less “telling.” When speaking out in passionate defense of the arts, my listeners—in kind—tend to get defensive about their own positions, and my argument is lost. I become less of an ambassador and more of an attacker. If I had the right language to paint an accurate picture of the future I see for a city focused at least partly on the arts, I may have a better chance of appealing to the reason and sensibilities of the people I’d like to reach.

The very language needed to create these brush strokes can be found in Richard Florida’s book, The Rise Of The Creative Class. Some of you may have read it already; it came out in 2005. I am just now becoming acquainted with his work, and I’m finding it very useful to have his language and logic at the ready when speaking out about the importance of the arts, the creative class, and the future of the urban center. You can read a short bit of his philosophy by going to: www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0205.florida.html.

If you have any desire to see a change in the Rockford arts scene, please buy the book. As I write this, there are 61 used copies available for purchase at Amazon.com for just $2.74—a pittance for a wealth of creative possibilities.

When our own language grows weary and our causes under-served, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of becoming territorial of our projects and bitter toward those we cannot rally to our causes. I know I have fallen into this closed-minded pattern. Sometimes it takes a new idea, or revisiting an old one, to rejuvenate our positivity and direct our fervor to a useful end. If you feel you might need a rekindling, I thought I’d pass along this information. Despite our various motives, ideals and dreams regarding our creative class in Rockford, we may all yet be able to communicate with each other in a more productive way. It seems like a good idea to me to create an unofficial coalition of Rockford natives/residents, all armed with some solid arguments that point in the same direction: creating and sustaining our local, living canvases of the arts.

Please visit Florida’s Web site: www.creativeclass.com.

Rockford native Emily Hurd performs her original music on the local, regional and national indie music circuit. She will headline a benefit concert for the Green Communities Coalition at 5 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 16, at Cliffbreakers 700 W. Riverside Blvd., with tickets on sale at The Rock River Times, 128 N. Church St., and JustGoods, 201 Seventh St. Listen to her music at www.emilyhurd.com.

from the July 22-28, 2009, issue

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