Public art important to community | AspenTimes.com

Public art important to community

A few weeks ago, a private citizen asked me why they should be supporting the expansion of Basalt's public art program. And as simple as the question may be, it hits on a much bigger problem which has brought me to write this. You see within rural and especially mountain town communities across the U.S. that there is this worrying lack of education around the "why?" of public art.

So, here goes. In my mind, public art does four main things: It celebrates creativity, enhances rural identity, encourages private-public partnerships and strengthens local economies.

In defining our history and developing culture, public art adds meaning to our towns and uniqueness to our communities. It cultivates the built environment and rejuvenates public spaces. It creates a bridge between past, present and future, between disciplines, and between ideas.

Now, most people are willing to agree that it celebrates creativity and enhances rural identity, but what I've found boggles most is the means by which public art strengthens local economies. So let's delve into that.

Mountain town economies like ours within the RFV are awkwardly dependent on our natural environment driving our tourism industry. So it seems only natural for us to explore other sustainable revenue streams that don't veer us from the high quality of living that defines Colorado. With that, cultural activities are third on the list of highest tourism attraction industries in the U.S after sports and adventure and R&R.

So to answer the question of why you should look to support the expansion of a public art program in our beautiful town of Basalt, it's that's simple.

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It's a proven medium to support our local economy, it further develops and defines our high quality of living and, frankly, it's aesthetically pleasing to have in your everyday life.

Bear Matthews

Basalt Public Arts Commission