Saturday, February 14, 2009

Art, more than foofty woofty

This is an article I wrote for the local paper about how supporting the arts improves the economy

With the current downturn of the economy more Canadian are becoming purchase conscious. Wallet snaps and zippers are closing, belts are tightening and budgeting is becoming the latest couture. More people are making an effort to buy locally in order to foster positive change in our local economy and there is a spreading realization that sending our money to other countries does not help Canada. Through difficult times there is a part of the local economy that is often overlooked or deemed as frivolous and that is the arts and culture sector. Indeed, our own federal government recently made cuts to arts and culture funding. What people don’t realize is that spending money on local arts has an immediate and significant impact on the local and federal economy.
Kamloops is alive with art. The arts community in Kamloops includes virtually every style of art and artist imaginable. A Kamloopsian can furnish their home with locally made furniture and objet’s d’art, wear locally made clothing and accessories, read locally written books and poetry, and fulfill their other entertainment needs with local music, theatre and dance. Every year Kamloops art is coming closer and closer to the forefront of our community. Buying local art does not just improve our community spiritually it also improves it economically. Buying mass-produced or import art sends a huge percentage of your money out of our country. When you go to a big box store or a large-scale importer, a tiny portion of your money spent goes to local wages, rent etc. The mass of it flies out of the country never to be seen again. Buying local handmade goods keeps the majority of your money not only in Canada, but also in the Kamloops area.
The impact of fostering local arts can be seen in any well-known arts-tourist destination in Canada. Cities and towns that promote and nurture arts are strong economically. They are socially and economically healthy, and pleasant places to be. Arts rich communities not only keep more of their own money in the local economy, they bring in more money from other places. Artistic communities are places were people enjoy being and people visit such places with the expectation of spending money.
Buying locally can be daunting for some, there is the belief that local handmade goods are significantly more expensive. Sometimes this is the case, although the price almost always reflects the quality. There are many instances where buying local art is comparable or cheaper then buying from a large retailer. It is not difficult to find paintings, drawings, and prints that are similar or less in price then mass-produced home d├ęcor “art” from department stores or furniture retailers. Next time you redecorate your living room, consider purchasing a local painting-you will be supporting the local economy and be making an investment. Mass-produced “art” only decreases in value over time; unique art can increase and become a family heirloom. Another easy way to support local art is through gift giving. It is not difficult to find a reasonably priced piece of jewellery or scarf, and you are giving something truly unique. The next time you have a night off, consider going to a local theatre production or music performance, it won’t cost you much more than going to the movie theatre, and will almost certainly be worthwhile entertainment.
Buying locally is a proactive approach that has almost immediate positive impacts on the local economy. When you purchase a local piece of art your money not only stays in our country it stays in our community. This has a huge positive impact on our community. The Kamloops Arts Council and countless other local art supporting groups and societies help to improve not only the cultural well-being of our community, but also the economic climate. Take the time to check out local galleries, shops, and shows. You will enrich not only your life, but the lives of everyone in our community.

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