Subscribe to ArtsWatch 3: The arts are really important HERE!

Chris Haberman, mural at 50th and Hawthorne

Yesterday, I tried to make the general casefor the importance of the arts (and thus, arts journalism), part of an ongoing effort to convince you to become a member of Oregon ArtsWatch. Because why would you support something that wasn’t important? I certainly wouldn’t!

Today, I’m moving on to the specific case: Why is a project like ArtsWatch important to the Portland metro area (where we’ve done most of our work) and the state of Oregon?

Actually, that’s an easy one for those of you who’ve spent any time at this website or following us on Facebook (which we heartily recommend!).  Three observations:

1. The number of artists of all sorts and arts organizations in Portland and the rest of the state is huge and growing. The work they do is both increasingly interesting and increasingly important, both locally and nationally. Portland is known for its food scene, sure, but its reputation as a place where music is made, theater produced, art is painted, built and assembled, choreography and performance art are pursued, movies are directed and literature is written, that’s national, too. The individual artists are important, of course, and so is the dynamic of the entire system.

2. Those artists are deeply entangled with the rest of the culture, especially the rest of the creative economy — from high- and bio-tech to clothing and shoe design to architecture. I wrote a little about that in June, a column that was picked up by ArtsJournal.

3. Together, they create a culture that is changing faster, adapting better and responding more quickly to the problems it encounters. Not to be too boosterish about it, but the results are astounding: Portland is spoken of both as a national and even international city, not the regional backwater it seemed to be a few decades ago. A recent story on Slate gives some indication of how successful we’ve been.

4. (OK, I lied about the “three observations” part) The state as a whole has begun to follow suit: Even in Portland it’s easy to detect the same quickening, the same liveliness, down the valley and across the mountains. I’m not talking about the economy so much or government, both of which need a lot more work, just the general atmosphere, texture, even taste of the place.

All of this isn’t directly because of the arts, but the arts are involved, from Fishtrap to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. And that’s what ArtsWatch has talked about this year and wants to talk about even more.  We see so many opportunities to tell stories, to look into the way things are done here, to suggest improvements. And maybe more important, to establish a public forum for discussion and debate about the direction the culture is headed.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk a little more about Oregon ArtsWatch and why we set it up as we did, as a non-profit that needs your participation to succeed.

But maybe you’ve heard enough, and you’re ready join?  Fabulous—just push the subscribe button now! Our memberships start at $35, but you can donate any amount you like. Or maybe you need some more convincing? Stay tuned…

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