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September 5, 2007

Quality of life will revitalize economy

Bridgette Redman

Lansing's mayor declared today "Lansing Symphony Orchestra Day." There was a dedication at City Hall in the morning and ensembles from the orchestra performed in locations throughout the city, including credit unions, the Capitol, the airport, the hospitals, the library, and the law school.

It's a fitting tribute to a professional orchestra that continues to thrive and is well-loved in the community. Last year, their long-time conductor and music director Gustav Meier retired and was replaced by Timothy Muffitt, who is also the music director of the Baton Rouge Symphony. I spoke with him last week about the upcoming season, a season they've dubbed "Feel the Power."

While we spent most of the conversation talking about music and the symphony, we also touched on arts and arts funding. He said something that struck a chord with me because of an earlier entry written here. A month or so ago, I questioned whether art could replace Oldsmobile as a pillar of the economy. I had my doubts--even while knowing that art was vital to the economy and that we have a strong, vibrant arts community here. What he said clarified something in my mind.
Muffitt said:

Michigan as a state tends to be a progressive group of people. Most people recognize that if we're going to jump start this economy, if we're going to revitalize the economy of Michigan, it has to start with a quality of life. Quality of life has a lot to do with how strong the arts scene is in any given community. When you look at all those lists of the places that are the most attractive life, they all have a great arts scene. I'm not just talking about the Symphony. I'm talking about Boarshead, our galleries, the things happening in the little cafes, the whole picture. For any state and any city to really revitalize itself from an economic perspective, we have to take care of the quality of life, which means a great and well-supported arts scene. Without that, there will be no revitalization of the economy. I think the people of Michigan know that. We do need to translate that support into dollars coming in the door, but I think we're moving in the right direction. I do believe this is a progressive group of people in our state and in our community.

While art isn't likely to be the income generator that Oldsmobile, state government, or education is, it can be the driving force that makes other industries profitable.

Posted by Bridgette Redman at September 5, 2007 8:24 AM


I would like to venture a statement, in response to the thesis posed in the title of this article: That it is indeed so -- as by affect, upon when it serves to improve the lives of people who (as incidental to their sum endeavors) who make economy to happen (that is, all of us whom interact within and to businesses, incidental to what we do) then leading to a more satifsying life, and more creativity in work. Indeed, a dynamic arts community must be a crucial phenomenon to a good quality of life.

and what about the arts evidenced in form of architecture*? How does that affect a community?

* One might consider, at least, the more inspiring arhictectural forms of some historic sites, museums, older churches, big, fancy, exceedingly expensive homes, and expensive office complexes.

I would like to venture a question, secondly. I know it is a naive question, and that it may startle some, if it would be left at its own: As a phenomenon, is a realization of arts dependant on special funding?

That funding may be facilitative to the realization of major projects, I would not suggest any doubt.

The net relations between art and finance, I cannot suggest any final summary about, actually. I raise the question, as to challenge a suggestion that one may be dependant on the other. Yet, considering it, there must be some dependance.

Obliquely put: It must be a complex matter to observe, the realization of works of art, per conditions of financing to the same.

I would assert, finally, that financing cannot preceed creative impetus, and the results be genuinely endearing.

Posted by: Sean at September 9, 2007 2:35 PM