Are the arts important in your life and the life of your family? Do you spend time and money to learn how to paint or play an instrument or knit a sweater? Do you enjoy going to galleries, performances, or outdoor festivals? Would you like to see a few cafes with open mics in your downtown? Does the perfect nut roll or shoo-fly pie make you want to write poetry? Does a surprising piece of whimsical art in a public place bring a smile to your face?
These are just some of the ways that arts and culture touch our lives, and Montgomery County would like to hear from you about what specific places and activities are important to you in your town and throughout the region. Check out the survey here.Last fall Montgomery County launched a large-scale planning process called Creative MontCo. Their website bills Creative Montco as “a bold partnership of community members and organizations developing a comprehensive cultural and creative economy plan for communities throughout the county. Creative MontCo is dedicated to making Montgomery County a more vibrant place to live, work and play.”
The beautiful thing about the arts – besides just being, well, beautiful – is that arts and culture can be an economic engine for a local economy. All over the country, there are towns, small cities and even neighborhoods within larger cities, that have discovered their identities as centers of art, culture, and history and they have generated jobs and stabilized their tax base by understanding, expanding, and promoting their assets.
The Creative MontCo Steering Committee is being led by Montgomery County Community College president Dr. Karen Stout. The County has hired some really knowledgeable planners – The Cultural Planning Group – who understand how arts and culture can be good for residents and visitors alike and can stimulate economic growth. They have have been surveying and meeting with artists, organizations, and groups ever since to find out what residents like, what they want more of, and what they envision for their towns in the way of arts, and culture, which I take to include historic and heritage resources as well as the natural environment (i.e., parks).
To me, the term “culture” gets at the history of a place and how that is reflected today in the people that live there, the work they do, the traditions that live on, and the natural and built environments that are tied to all of that. For me, “the arts” includes any creative endeavor, including, say, beautiful cupcakes or the really old mosaic tiles in many of the entryways of the stores in downtown Pottstown.
So… what arts and cultural activities and events are important to you? Please take a few moments NOW to respond to their survey here. And feel free to spend some time at Creative MontCo’s website, reading what others have to say and sharing your vision for the creative future of your county.