By Brenda Tammarine
Staff Liaison to the City of Sedona Arts and Culture Commission
Sedona AZ (March 13, 2013) – In order to establish a better understanding of the arts and culture needs of the community, the City of Sedona’s Arts & Culture Commission hosted a listening session at their February meeting.
Guest attendees included members of the art and business community which comprised of gallery owners, art teachers, musicians, artists, poets, writers, college instructors, musicians, and dancers. Each speaker had an opportunity to speak to the Commissioners about areas of arts and culture they felt required more attention, issues that may involve change, or ideas they wished to implement in the future.
During the two-hour session, while a variety of arts and culture issues were discussed, three areas of concern continued to be highlighted from the community members. These included the idea of a Sedona art museum, additional arts education, and the implementation of street art and performances.
One of the first guests to speak expressed the necessity of an art museum in order to provide, for citizens and visitors, Sedona’s prolific and diverse artistic and cultural history. Another speaker expressed her concern that many people are unaware of our rich art history. A museum would help people learn that Sedona was, and still is, gifted with many talented local artists. She used the example of the famous German artist, Max Ernst, who lived and worked in Sedona before returning to Europe. Other speakers expressed the notion that an art museum would help Sedona become the art destination it aspires to be, while remaining a charming small town.
Secondly, the subject of offering street performers a venue was mentioned numerous times throughout the session. A dancer spoke about the need for more eclectic performances and explained that these could include street performances with musicians, sidewalk artists, dancers, actors, and poets. Performances could be aligned with a cultural festival, music program, or other event. Additional ways of promoting art in the community could include displaying art in vacant buildings and shop windows, turning these vacant spaces into vibrant art galleries in order to showcase new artists, sculptures, storytelling programs, art workshops, or fashion development.
Lastly, the topic regarding the importance of art education was expressed repeatedly. An art teacher described how art in school plays an important role for providing alternative, yet educational ways for students to express themselves. The next speaker, a musician, explained that to instill the commitment into what it takes to master an artistic challenge, such as learning the piano, translates successfully to other aspects in a student’s studies, especially in the sciences.
Naturally implementing any of these concepts would involve change and support. Revisions would have to be introduced and accepted to the current City ordinances to allow street performances vis-à-vis that of San Francisco, New York, or even Paris. Cooperation from landlords would be required to use their empty buildings for art space. Assistance, both in the form of financial and volunteer, would be a prerequisite for an art museum. Finally, expanding art education in our schools would involve both public and monetary support.
Can Sedona reach the arts and culture level of the larger artistic cities? Our own beautiful small city is already home to an incredibly talented artistic community that is committed toward making Sedona into an internationally recognized arts and culture destination. As expressed by those dedicated community members who attended the Arts & Culture Commission’s listening session, perhaps now is the time to get over the notion that only large cities can perform as successful artistic centers.