Dear Council Members,
I am writing to you as member and Catalyzer of the Ashland Arts Alliance, a newly formed creative "industry cluster" focused on Ashland, Virginia. The Ashland Arts Alliance is one month old, and boasts 64 members, with membership growing almost daily. The Alliance includes a core of professional visual and performing artists and craftsmen, who have forged a career in the "creative arts". It also consists of novices, hobbyists, and students.
The three primary goals of the Alliance are collaboration, referral, and solidarity. These goals have been and will be achieved through rapid communication channels, open-mindedness, inclusivity, and lateral empowerment. In the thirty days since the Alliance has gone "live", we have had 11 advertised "meetups", with 7 more announced.
One of the strengths of the dedicated "artist", for lack of a better term, is the habit of seeing both potentiality and actuality in a fresh light. This is certainly not to denigrate the imagination and creativity of every individual, as indeed I believe we are all artists by birthright. Rather, I use the word "habit" intentionally, for as artists, particularly professional artists, many of us must use all our creative energies on a daily basis to create a microcosm around us that allows us to thrive financially and spiritually with the world with which we are presented. Sometimes this means re-shaping the world around us. Sometimes this means simply viewing that world in a new light. In this spirit, I applaud your visionary action in creating an Arts and Culture District overlay in Ashland.
I bring your attention to the Comprehensive Plan adopted by the town council on December 6th, 2011, particularly to policy CD.13 titled "Public Art". As a refresher and for the education of the public, the policy reads:
The use of public art as a landmark enhances the visibility of arts and culture in the environment. As part of Creativity and Arts in Downtown and England Street, this area can serve as an on-going outdoor art exhibition using sculpture in open spaces. Public art should be displayed throughout the town, at places such as Town Hall, the Ashland Town Center, local parks, and on busy downtown streets such as England Street and South Railroad Avenue.