There’s value in arts

We support the Arts Commission’s mission to balance public and private financing of Chico’s cultural resources

The next time you’re walking downtown or through just about any city park in Chico, take a moment to stop and look around. What do you see? If you’re downtown, you see art benches, murals, fountains and outdoor art galleries. In our city’s parks, you’ll find a mosaic dragon, a giant windchime and intricately designed gates. The art around us is part of what makes Chico unique. And it’s starting to fall apart.

Just look at The Spiral, a large, whimsical metal sculpture situated along a path in Oak Way Park (and pictured on this week’s cover). At the center of the spiral, a piece is missing. A “whirligig,” as the Chico Arts & Culture inventory names it. In addition, there’s graffiti that needs sandblasting. And the piece’s seams need resealing. If this isn’t done in a reasonable amount of time, this piece, much like others that have fallen into disrepair, could be marked for de-commissioning, relegated to a metal yard or, at best, to someone’s backyard.

Wouldn’t that be a shame?

As local arts enthusiasts, artists and politicians noted in this week’s cover story (See “Optimism for arts,” by Meredith J. Cooper, page 16), investment in the arts is key to a healthy economy and a thriving community. City Councilman Andrew Coolidge recently requested $10,000 be earmarked in the 2017-18 budget for public art maintenance and repair. None of his council colleagues appeared interested. That’s too bad.

The Arts Commission is working toward a multifaceted recovery plan in the wake of the Great Recession that will include financial support for the arts. We are heartened by the passion of local artists and the commissioners who are working to further their successes. We hope they’re able to find a suitable balance between public and private funding that ensures the future of our public art and the survival of our arts institutions, which provide a healthy dose of culture, beauty and whimsy in our otherwise hectic lives—while building on the artistic character of this “arts town.”