What’s next for the arts?

I once read that novelist Graham Greene considered his work finished for the day when he had written 500 words, no more no less, which meant he sometimes stopped mid-sentence. On the other hand, he could pound out a day’s work in an hour or two, which left him free to play the rest of the day. Those 500 words added up to a best-selling novel a year, which was all he needed to maintain his quite comfortable lifestyle.

I don’t know how many hours the people profiled in this “Create Local” issue put in each day, but I do know they’ve managed to make careers largely out of doing the creative work that brings them joy. The key, obviously, is discipline.

Many readers may not realize just how many folks in this area work as artists. As the annual Artoberfest celebration has demonstrated this month, the arts are a major business here, which is much of the reason why Chico has been honored as one of America’s top small arts towns.

We shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back too enthusiastically, though. We could do much more to support local arts and artists. Specifically, we need a community art museum. When I lived in Boise, Idaho, about a decade ago, I saw just how much the Boise Art Museum brought to the city. In addition to developing a permanent collection of regional artists’ work, the museum attracted extraordinary traveling exhibits, served as an artistic gathering place, hosted poetry readings and film screenings, and otherwise provided a creative hub that was central to Boise’s identity as a city.

Chico has accomplished a minor miracle by creating the Gateway Science Museum. Why stop there? Why not take the community spirit that fostered that museum and create an art museum for Chico? We can do it. And when it’s done, we’ll wonder how we ever got along without it.