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Culture Will Grow In Right Conditions

Mon., April 10, 1995

Question: “What does the typical Spokane resident consider great culture?”

Answer: “An all-you-can-eat buffet.”

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Every newcomer hears this familiar refrain: Spokane is a great place to raise a family, but you’ll have to go out of town for some culture.

In reality, Spokane boasts a first-rate symphony, excellent community theater and artists with national reputations. Still, the image persists.

The Spokane Arts Commission is undertaking a unique project that may, ultimately, entice Spokane culture out of mockery’s closet. It could also help create pockets of art and dance and theater in neighborhoods where none exists right now.

During April, May and June, commission volunteers will host 15 neighborhood forums. They will ask participants questions such as “Would you attend more concerts, plays, exhibits or classes if they were held in your neighborhood? What are the issues facing your neighborhood? How can the arts help address some of the issues? If you don’t currently participate in something, what makes it more likely that you would?”

With the information collected from the public, and with information gathered during separate forums with those representing various arts disciplines, the commission will formulate a comprehensive long-range arts plan.

Maybe it will mean more art programs for high-risk children. Or concerts early in the evening so older people (and morning people) can dip into some culture and still be in bed by 9 p.m. Or perhaps more dance and music and painting will plop down in your neighborhood so you don’t have to trek downtown for culture. Or perhaps the artistic richness of our city’s ethnic communities will surface in surprising ways.

“We are at a turning point, a point of introspection in Spokane,” said Sue Ellen Heflin, the city’s art director. “It’s a good time for Spokane to take a breather and say ‘What do we want with the arts?”’

The arts feed our city’s soul. They provide a way of expressing emotion and opinion in a non-political way. They are essential to Spokane’s well-being.

During the next eight weeks, the 15 forums will be held in every part of the city, at a variety of times. For the schedule, call 625-6490.

So instead of grousing about the lack of culture in Spokane, attend a forum. Instead of passing on the warning that Spokane is a cultural desert, attend a forum.

Attend a forum and help guarantee that Spokane will remain a great place to raise a family.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Rebecca Nappi/For the editorial board

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