On Friday, January 31st, a group of government officials and local community members met for the Legislative Gathering at The Creamery Arts Center to discuss the importance of arts in southwest Missouri. Guests included, among others, City Councilman Andrew Lear, Presiding Greene County Commissioner Bob Dixon, Representative Sonya Anderson, Representative Craig Fishel, and Representative Curtis Trent. Leslie Forrester, Executive Director of the Springfield Regional Arts Council led a panel of local art advocates, Maurice Jones, Deputy City Manager, Kyle Wiley Pickett, Springfield Symphony Orchestra, and Beth Domann, Executive Director of Springfield Little Theatre.
The Missouri Arts Council Trust Fund receives 60% of the Non-resident Athletes & Entertainers Tax (A&E Tax), which yielded $4.8 million last year. Funds are subject to appropriation each year, and Missouri Citizens for the Arts is asking Governor Mike Parsons for continued funding.
One of the questions posed to the panel was “what do arts and culture play in retaining economic development?” Deputy City Manager Maurice Jones illustrated how these give a community “a sense of place.” People are all about experiences– where they went and how it made them feel. Jones went on to explain that arts and culture are what attract people and get them to stay. Jones brought up the quote by Maya Angelou, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” People are looking for an opportunity to express themselves.
Beth Domann was asked, “how does theatre help attract business?” Domann commented that when looking at a place to live, people are looking at more than just the schools. They want to know about the art scene and how the parks are. Springfield has a uniqueness to it because of the abundance of art and education. Domann further explored how people in the arts are smart and passionate; they’re becoming our doctors and professionals, and we want to keep them in our community.
Kyle Wiley Pickett was posed the question of the symphony’s role in the community. Pickett discussed how in a world of streaming services and constant media consumption how live performances are different. Pickett pointed to actor Simon Callow who talks about the “transformative effect” when you leave a show. It changes people– moves and inspires them.
In closing remarks, Jones said we should be asking how we can reach everyone. He urged people to go into the community where art doesn’t exist and bring it there. Not everyone has access and there is an inclusion opportunity. Pickett pointed out that not everyone loves the symphony or theatre, but businesses should want arts in their town. Professionals are looking for a city with arts and their kids want to get involved. This is essential for bringing and retaining great people. Domann urged people to “jump in– see a show. Get involved in some way.” She emphasized how art “touches you in ways you don’t even know.”
The next meeting for art advocates is taking place at Citizens Day at the legislature on Wednesday, February 5th. Find out more about that event here.
-- Rebecca Land, Marketing Intern