Two For Two: Chapter III

Two For Two: Chapter III

In February, I got the opportunity to go to DC to connect with some of the State Representatives and the Senators of Arizona. We had a great leader in Patrick and a great team of 7 others, including myself. We all had different perspectives and came from different parts of Arizona. The mission was clear and simple – Educate our Representatives and Senators about what is going on in regard to Arts & Culture in Arizona and for me, it was specifically from the perspective of the youth.

There were many great discussions and I certainly learned a lot. I had a lot of great people in my group that were very articulate in expressing the accomplishments and needs of Arizona. I quickly learned from them, adapted, and found my comfort zone in talking about the accomplishments and needs of children and lower income families that we work with in Arizona. As you can imagine, there were individuals that were easy to talk to and others that were not as easy. Regardless of where they found themselves on the subject of Arts & Culture and Humanities, I found joy in brightening up the conversation by asking the question “What are some of the key issues on your plate and at the top of your mind?” The various answers to this question made me realize how complexed our country is/can be.

As you walked around the city from meeting to meeting (sometimes using the underground tunnels which were AWESOME) there is something about DC that was undeniable. THERE IS ART EVERYWHERE! There were times that you were in certain offices and you were able to see the monuments at different angles. Every office that we visited had some sort of art. There were original paintings (Senator Mark Kelly has a SPLENDID piece from an Arizona artist), murals,  and sculptures. The art represented the various people, landscapes, and cultures of Arizona. I wonder how the art of our State Representatives and Senators compare to the art of the other states.

It made me think a few things. First it made me think “Well, you clearly value art. Do you think that art is something that everyone deserves or only a selected few?” (I kept this question to myself but may ask on a future visit 🙂 )
The other question that I had was “Imagine if the Arts & Culture in the various cities of the country looked and worked like this Washington DC.” For example, the amount of free museums in DC is remarkable. You could seriously take a week to go to a museum everyday and you still wouldn’t see everything. The strategic alignment of the The Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol is remarkable!
And don’t get me started on the Martin Luther King Memorial because that is a blog within itself. However, I will hit you with 2 great facts:

  • Did you know that The MLK Memorial came about thanks in large part to the efforts of the fraternity that MLK belonged to; Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc (which yes, I am a part of).
  • Did you know that the address for the memorial is 1964 Independence Ave., referencing the 1964 Civil Rights act.
But I digress…
I’ve lived in a lot of great cities; Boston, Atlanta, Houston, etc. and none of them have museums (certainly free museums) like Washington DC.

In thinking about the question “What is art and why is it so important?” it makes me think about my story about my aunt baking and how I learned that music/arts is the “Rising Agent” (if you are not familiar with this story, then I’ll tell it to you and some friends at an event near you 😉 ). But after visiting DC with this lense, I know think that art helps to make the community more “livable”. Just like it would be difficult for me to watch a movie without music, it would be difficult for me to live in a place without art.

Do you feel the same way?

The last thing that it made me think of is how far Arizona, specifically Phoenix has come along in regards to Arts & Culture since I first visited in 2007. When I first visited Phoenix, there was no Cityscape. I don’t remember as many murals as I see now. There was no Crescent Ballroom, Van Buren, or Valley Bar. There was no SOUNDS Academy. Today Phoenix has over 200 public art projects (and Scottsdale has at least 100). The live music scene has increased due to the efforts of people like Charlie and Steve. The impact of programs like Rosie’s House and Phoenix Conservatory of Music has also increased since I first visited. 

Phoenix, AZ is one of the Top 5 largest cities in the US. It’s time to start investing like it (Check out “The Top 20 Arts-Vibrant Large Communities” to see what our peer cities are doing). When people go to shows, concert, museums, etc. they’re not just simply going to the main attraction. They’re also buying food, taking Ubers, posting things on their social media, etc. A city investing in its Arts & Culture is a city investing in its economy. Although we still have a long way to go, I believe that if we start investing in our Arts & Culture like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago (the 3 largest cities in the US), then we will start to attract more positive attention, despite this heat!