Comments to Chatham County Commissioners
May 20, 2013
My name is Gina Harrison. I’m an arts education advocate here in Chatham County—founding president of the NHS Arts Education Foundation, a board member of ArtsNC, and a volunteer serving on the Board of ChathamArts.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak as you consider public funding for ChathamArts—the Chatham County Arts Council for the coming year. I know people are divided on the question of whether Government should support the Arts.
I would like to suggest you consider a slightly different question tonight as you deliberate—Does the mission and do the activities of ChathamArts advance YOUR goals and objectives for our county now and could it be more effective in working together in the future?
Does promoting and “celebrating our county’s heritage and identity” inspire residents who live and work here? Is it an asset in attracting business and economic development? Do activities and events like Clydefest, the Annual Bluegrass Concert, this year’s film/lecture series on American Music History at the Public Library, build community? attract visitors and tourists who spend money in our county?
Is providing the opportunity for our students to see world class performers in concert, and to work directly with them in residencies, valuable? From the Glenn Miller Orchestra and the 2009 Piemont Laureate Jackie Shelton Greene, to EbzB’s residency creating a theatre piece for middle schoolers about discrimination, ChathamArts works each year with the school system to enhance educational experiences for our students.
And is it an asset for ChathamArts to administer the Grassroot Arts Grants in Chatham County? Working in concert with local organizations on projects aimed at reducing hunger, improving literacy, assisting those with developmental disabilities, and preserving our environmental resources?
ChathamArts does this and more, with only two part-time employees. Most of the work is done by volunteers. I suggest that these are valuable, even essential to progress, and that it is the combined responsibility of public government, local business, and private individuals. You are not ChathamArts’ sole means of support, but your investment is a powerful statement about the goals and priorities and vision of our community.
The work of ChathamArts “enriches education, enhances economic development, and enlivens our community.”
And that kind of investment IS worthy of public support.