The Eureka Springs School of the Arts broke ground for its new metalwork and blacksmithing studio last week. It’s a big deal for the school and community – adding to our arts destination status. Congratulations to Executive Director Peggy Kjelgaard and a strong board of directors, including architect David McKee.
The arts are vital for success of our town and we should support them. The arts are fundamental to our humanity and make economic sense in a tourist town; the art appreciative visitor spends more and stays longer. Art helps drive our local economy, providing jobs and generating much needed revenue.
Eureka Springs has a long history as an arts town, starting with Louis and Elsie Freund, who founded the Summer Art School in 1939.
For a city with a population of only 2000, we have made impressive strides in continuing the arts tradition. We have a lot going for us, including: long established non-profit art organizations (ESSA, The Writers’ Colony, Opera in the Ozarks); multiple arts and craft galleries; a Gallery Association; a statewide reputation as an arts and cultural destination; a month-long celebration of the arts in its 27th year; a historic, beautifully renovated city auditorium; Main Stage; fine wine and dining; a Mayor’s Arts Council; a new music park; the Creative Energy Project; a world class museum in our backyard; an Artist Registry; Zeek Taylor and a well of talented, creative people – all rolled into a beautiful and unique small town.
It’s a potential arts and cultural goldmine for everyone, yet despite all of the above, there is resistance to investing in our arts infrastructure.
Imagine putting a fraction of the $1 million-plus CAPC tax into the hands of people who can create a spectacular art event and make it buzz-worthy through free social media.
Local photographer Jeremy Mason McGraw obviously comes to mind. Through his Creative Energy Project, Jeremy pulled off two highly successful art events during this year’s May festival. The Sphere and MUGS succeeded on two levels: first, by presenting large-scale, public, interactive art installations for locals and tourists to enjoy, and second, by garnering more free, positive press and hype for Eureka Springs than any costly generic and mediocre ad campaign could ever hope to.
Jeremy’s latest project is “Yarnography,” a collection of photographs featuring local yarn bomber Gina Gallina’s crocheted creations. The collaborating duo have already created quite the buzz through Facebook, local and statewide press, and an Ozarks at Large radio piece – but folks will have to travel to art hungry downtown Bentonville August 6 at the Press Room in order to see it.
Let’s invest in the artists and creative talent we have here instead of forcing them to look elsewhere. Our town cannot afford another loss like Pearl Brick or Charlotte Buchanan.