Orland gets it right

Embracing the arts results in great strides for our neighbor to the west

Chico business leaders and city officials who maintain doubts about the positive impacts of public arts could benefit from spending an evening in Orland.

Since 2005, the Orland Arts Commission has designed and implemented a number of public art works, beautification projects and signage welcoming visitors to the community. The commission’s crowning accomplishment is a state-of-the-art gallery featuring classes, regular exhibits and special events (see “Small-town support,” Newslines, page 8).

To some, this city of about 7,000 has traditionally been known as a place to pass through on the way to somewhere else, with many residents content to keep it that way. But in the past decade, according to Orland arts lovers, a sea change has occurred, with the greater population gradually understanding—and greatly appreciating—the economic boon that inevitably follows the injection of culture into a community.

Of course, there are differences between Chico and Orland’s arts scenes. Most notably, the Orland Arts Commission is the only game in that town, and thus is the sole benefactor of community support. Chico has close to 100 nonprofit arts organizations, which are impossible to adequately support without some public help. The upside is that the returns for Chicoans, both in dollars and creative output, are much larger.

For those still in doubt, take this simple challenge: Stop in Orland for dinner at, say, Farwood Bar & Grill, then stroll the main drag, visit Library Park, stop into the gallery and ask a volunteer there what the arts have meant to Orland. Chances are, you’ll see the city in a new light.