Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Arts Alliance sees prosperous future

Supporting the arts leads to economic growth

Express Staff Writer

October is National Arts and Humanities month and in conjunction with this nationally recognized initiative, the Wood River Arts Alliance will sponsor a community forum, "Arts and Economic Prosperity," on Tuesday, Oct. 4, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. with a breakfast at 9:30 a.m. at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum.

Mayors from all Wood River Valley communities will be present as well as retail members and much of the arts community in the region. The forum will discuss an economic study, which was completed this past summer by the Americans for the Arts.

"The Wood River Arts Alliance started in 1971 when Wendy Jaquet, former chamber of commerce director, came up with the idea. Hilary Neely and I have been doing it for 17 years. We have continued to spearhead it and serve on the board," Claudia McCain said. "This will be our second economic conference. We meet quarterly and network nationally as well as regionally."

The America for the Arts study will reveal the economic benefit of the arts throughout the communities in the Wood River Valley. Sam Gappmayer, executive director of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, and member of the board of directors for the Idaho Humanities Council, will go through the survey step by step through a PowerPoint presentation, and the forum will be moderated by Jaquet, a Ketchum Democrat who is now the Idaho House minority leader at the state Legislature.

"It's important because we began as an organization to make a community for the arts," McCain said. "We share information and pool resources, ideas and marketing so we can find ways to work together."

McCain pointed out that the valley's communities are growing differently, and there is a need to work together. Hailey has an arts commission and although Ketchum has one as well the town has not appointed members.

"The arts have a huge impact on the community, and this study really points that out," McCain said. "There's still a great deal more we need to do."

The alliance serves as an umbrella organization for the entire valley. It supports individuals outside the valley as well as in the community. It produces a calendar every year, a speaker series, and in 2008 it will produce a children's arts festival, which will take place at the Community Campus in Hailey on Jan. 28, 2008.

Banners and signs will be posted throughout the valley in recognition of October as National Arts and Humanities month.

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