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Winston-Salem Journal - Arts for all

Singer Martha Bassett walks through the recently renovated Arboreal Gallery at the Milton Rhodes Center during the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County's "2020 Clear Vision" Community Fund for the Arts campaign kick-off event on Jan. 27 in downtown Winston-Salem. ALISON LEE ISLEY/JOURNAL

Our view - Winston-Salem Journal - February 1, 2020

We put it on our walls — and in our phones. We watch it, read it and listen to it, and in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, we’re very, very good at making it and sharing it.

Art, in all its forms, enhances and enriches our lives, emotionally, physically, mentally and asthetically. It inspires and energizes us and strengthens our spirits and our relationships. It’s no less essential for modern mortals than food.

The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County supports the arts with the grants it provides to some of our essential arts organizations and individuals. In its 2020 fundraising campaign, which kicked off early last week, the arts council has set a challenging goal: $2.5 million to share with a plethora of individuals and organizations that help us live up to our motto as “the City of Arts and Innovation.” For its sure hand at the helm as it selects the recipients of its grants and distributes the funds, the arts council deserves our support.

In years past, its recipients have included some of the most integral to our collective social and creative lives, such as Bookmarks, the Little Theatre of Winston-Salem, the North Carolina Black Repertory Company, RiverRun International Film Festival and the Winston-Salem Symphony. These are organizations that have brought joy and pride to the residents of our community.

The arts council also maintains a downtown headquarters that provides administrative offices to several arts organizations at a reasonable, cost-effective price. Its facility also provides exhibition space and performance venues for local creators and arts organizers, drawing tens of thousands of participants to their invigorating programs.

As the arts council cited in a recent press release, the arts benefit not a separate elite, but the entire community — even those who don’t realize that they’re soaking in it. Arts education bolsters academic performance, build bridges between individuals and make our community more appealing to new residents.

And the arts are practical, proving to be an economic engine that provides jobs, attracts tourists and generates commerce among local residents. A 2015 economic survey concluded that our local arts industry accounted for over 5,000 jobs, generated $14.8 million in state and local tax revenue and had a total economic impact of $156.8 million. That places it in the ranks of other local industries.

It’s only fair to note that the arts council fell short of last year’s fundraising goal — the same amount it’s seeking this year. Some would say it should be a little more “realistic,” in an environment in which some institutions have changed their giving patterns.

“We could have aimed lower to guarantee success in reaching it,” Randy Eaddy, president and chief executive of the arts council, told the Journal. “But that would not be real success. ... Our vibrant and diverse arts constellation needs us to aim high and raise the maximum we can to support the arts, helping them ‘touch every corner’ of our community.”

It’s a bold decision — and the right decision. And given both the benefits of the arts and the dedication of those supporting it, we expect this year’s goal to be met — and exceeded. Nothing less should be expected of this creative, supportive community.

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