Don’t make me send in the mimes

| Print |  Email
Thursday, February 01, 2007

s_Robin

In a previous life, I was an arts editor. I had to argue longer, and a little louder, to get an arts story on the newspaper’s front page, while editors offering tales of big mergers or corrupt cops breezed onto Page 1. So I’m not surprised that the arts “moment” at the recent Oregon Leadership Summit was pretty much ignored in the news coverage of the summit.

The local papers and business press and their editorial boards wrote at length about the sustainability theme of the summit; indeed, that was our January cover story.

But that arts segment, which included dance and classical music performances listed on the agenda as “the lunch program,” shouldn’t be underestimated. It was an elegant shot across the bow by those who have worked long and hard to get the arts included in the Oregon Business Plan, a highly regarded framework for priorities for business and political leaders.

Jamey Hampton, co-founder of Portland dance troupe BodyVox and the son of arts advocate and timber baron John Hampton, gave a smart, funny and passionate speech. Duncan Wyse, president of the Oregon Business Council, invited him to do that in honor of John, who long had lobbied the council to include the arts in its business plan.

John Hampton, who passed away last year, might have liked how his son didn’t mince words as the younger Hampton stood in a place where his father often did: in front of a room full of business people, trying to convince them that arts are not only an artistic expression, but an important fuel in the economic engine.

“I initially accepted this gig today with a bit of trepidation,” Jamey said in his remarks. He wondered if he would have to “stand in front of yet another group of people and make the speech about how the arts are important to the economy of a region ... and have people nod their heads in agreement that, in fact, the arts are important while they are saying inside, ‘Yes, but only after we’ve put all the other aspects of our house in order. And if our schools don’t have enough money, shouldn’t we cut the arts programs first so we can afford the expensive football gear?’”

After the summit, I asked Wyse why the arts still were not a specific initiative in the business plan, now in its fifth year. “We had considered arts for this year, but decided we had a lot on our plate right now,” he said. To the council’s credit, it gave the arts a coveted program spot. Will the arts be in the plan next year? Wyse said the council hadn’t decided. But indecision is not what arts advocates are feeling.

“We’re giving Duncan a little breathing room but we plan a full attack to convince the council that arts should be in the business plan,” says Virginia Willard, executive director of the Northwest Business for Culture and the Arts (NWBCA). “We’re going to focus on creativity and innovation and how important it is to the economy. We need strong arts to compete. Arts have been seen as the frosting. Now we need to see it as the yeast.”

“The timing is right,” says Carol Morse, the NWBCA board president, adding that she is certain the arts will be included in the plan next year. Morse and Willard are formidable forces, and they aren’t alone.

The real honor to John Hampton would be to elevate the arts from a moment at the summit to a full-fledged initiative in the business plan. And to give his son, and all those who work tirelessly for the arts, a seat at the table, instead of being just the invited lunchtime guests.


— Robin Doussard
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

Reader Input: Energy Overload

June 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We asked readers to weigh in on the fossil fuel-green energy equation.


Read more...

Photo log: Murray's Pharmacy

The Latest
Friday, July 17, 2015
OBM-Heppner-Kaplan thumbBY JASON KAPLAN

Photographer Jason Kaplan takes a look at Murray's Pharmacy in Heppner.  The family owned business is run by John and Ann Murray, who were featured in our July/August cover story: 10 Innovators in Rural Health Care.


Read more...

Flattery with Numbers

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The false promise of economic impact statements.


Read more...

Urban renewer

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
UnknownBY LINDA BAKER   

One year after he was appointed chair of the Portland Development Commission, Tom Kelly talks about PDC's longevity, Neil Kelly's comeback and his new role as Portlandia's landlord.


Read more...

Department of Self-Promotion

Linda Baker
Tuesday, August 04, 2015

061715-awards1Oregon Business wins journalism awards.


Read more...

Reader Input: Fair Play

May 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Former Governor John Kitzhaber's resignation in February prompted some soul searching in this state about ethical behavior in industry and government.


Read more...

House of Clarity

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Holding a Power Lunch at Veritable Quandary in downtown Portland.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS