We’ve heard it said before and but not always this way – the critical role art, artistic pursuits and creative expression play in shaping and making a city is highly under-rated, under-valued, skipped over and stomped on far too much here. Whether we realize its positive effect on the places we see it or notice the negative impact of its absence from the places we don’t, we need to stop treating it as a luxury when its real role in shaping and sustaining a city comes down to necessity.
Far too long considered a frivolous indulgence, a non-necessity by societal standards, we’ve undermined and diminished artistry to the point of scarcity, crippling it almost completely. Blind to the attributes that lay right before us in the places it still manages to survive, we’re searching in all the wrong places for answers to how to inspire more innovation, how to spark more enthusiasm for who and what we are as a city and how to get the enviable aliveness that lights life up on the streets of other cities? The answer – art and artistic/creative expression in whatever form it may be, indulged in, valued and reintegrated into as many aspects of our modern world and personal lives as possible.
When you do so, you can’t help but begin to interact with the world around you differently, respect for the natural environment changes, things take on a different shade of brighter grey and connections between people shift in positive ways. Its not just a side effect of sniffing too much paint, art and creativity have the ability to slow us down, notice what we’re otherwise too busy to see and give us the breathing space to take in and appreciate what’s right before our very eyes. Its in this space of greater stillness that the sparks of possibility, innovation, ingenuity and inspiration take place. As such, the ability that creativity has to dig deeper, reveal truth, unravel or inspire chaos, move us and force us beyond our current boundaries into something far more that what we imagined we could possibly be, is critical to our evolution, our development, cohesion and sense of self as a city in process. No matter what the marketing, without the substance that art fosters and helps sustain, we’re just another urban space trying to be something we’re not.. at least not yet.
From the public spaces we create to the artistic activities we engage in, art is a life line feeding our collective sense of identity. Without it, a shared vision of who and what we want to be as a city becomes a struggle when it could be a masterpiece in progress. On top of that, its a process we all have the unique ability to take a paint stroke at.