Arts talk, we should listen

July 12, 2013 

The message at the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council annual meeting this week couldn’t have been more crystal clear: we need to do all we can to encourage and foster a creative class here.

The good news is we have a head start on many other communities in the region.

Passage of the bond issue this past April puts us squarely in the forefront of what is clearly going to be a continuation of what our creative community can accomplish with some "can do" attitude.

Of course, that leadership needs to come first from our city council and our mayor.

And the reasons we need to cultivate and promote the arts in Lee’s Summit were put smack dab in front of us by Harlan Brownlee, president and CEO of the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City.

Brownlee gave a no-nonsense look at how the artistic residents, business owners and consumers of the arts in Kansas City help translate singing, dancing, painting and sculpting into real, genuine dollars and jobs.

It’s a presentation every single member of our city council should have seen.

Our creative class in Lee’s Summit is certainly something to be proud of.

We have an infinite number of youngsters learning on their favorite instruments, endless dance classes in every corner of our city, live music from Legacy to downtown to Longview and constant displays of various artistic pieces hanging in the halls of our hospitals, city buildings, restaurants and other establishments.

We know that technology and other growing industries like to be in creative and artistic areas.

We learned that a large percentage of adults in the Kansas City area regularly take in the many artistic opportunities that are offered.

Some of us knew all of this already. For others, we hope, a light bulb not only came on, it will stay on.

Because what is ahead of Lee’s Summit and the arts is going to prove a pivotal piece for us.

It’s not enough that we’ve passed the bond.

We need to move swiftly on securing the land downtown for the outside performing space and get plans in place for the new historic museum (all of which we understand is in the works) so we can be ready in plenty of time for our city’s 150th anniversary in 2015.

And, as importantly, continue to show our commitment toward the arts.

Because, clearly, there is an economic development piece that comes with nurturing that piece of our community.

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John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Lee’s Summit Journal. To comment, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail jbeaudoin@lsjournal.com.

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