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Why the arts and arts funding are so important

Should Scottsdale fund $30 million or more for its Center for the Arts remodel? Was the Mesa Arts Center worth it? How about the new Tempe Performing Arts Center? Is the West Valley behind the arts curve? Has Phoenix Symphony Hall recaptured some of its magic with recent improvements and renovations? Should youth theaters receive public money as some Arizona communities do but not others?
All are important discussions, as debates about the arts and funding them have always been and will always be. Yet, they often miss a critical human element, as exemplified by the people who make Ballet Arizona performances so entertaining. The same can be said of other artists who aspire to perform anywhere from dinner to Dodge Theatre, or at the Orpheum or at Gammage or the Kerr Cultural Center or any one of dozens of other arts venues around the state.
Whether it is a young girl lacking confidence, an aspiring young teenager seeking to perform in a magical production like “The Nutcracker” during the holidays or someone making their living with the symphony, the opportunity to perform in any of these facilities is critically important to the welfare of community. Why?
Because that insecure young girl suddenly discovers, through the arts, that confidence isn’t a stranger. The aspiring young teenager realizes that the desert is not just that for a future in arts and culture. And someone like Ballet Arizona’s Ib Anderson spends the time necessary to debut his works, original and known, because the Valley has the venues and the patrons willing to enjoy such programs.
Once the home of only Symphony Hall, the Valley’s burgeoning investment in arts facilities will make our community, now the fifth largest in the country, even richer. The taxpayers who fund these facilities will be the richer for the reward, the relaxation and the inspiration these performances and venues provide.
Maybe it is only “The Nutcracker” at Christmas. Or maybe it’s a niece in Peoria who is now intrigued in youth theater thanks to improved facilities. Or maybe it is being stunned by Baryshnikov in Scottsdale. Or maybe it is spending a winter night with Ballet Arizona as an escape from the usual. Or maybe it is being struck by a work at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts.
We are all the better for it when these opportunities exist and these experiences happen.
I would challenge the curmudgeonliest taxpayer reading this column to join Ballet Arizona for “The Nutcracker” in December at Symphony Hall. Or head down to Scottsdale’s Desert Stages and watch children smile and discover something about themselves they would not otherwise. Or go be inspired by a performance at the architectural marvel that is the Mesa Center for the Arts.
These experiences will be enough to make Archie Bunker smile — and Mr. Curmudgeon. That’s what the arts are all about and why support for the facilities and programs that make them possible is so important to the Valley’s quality of life.
Jason Rose is the vice chairman of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts. His public relations firm represents Ballet Arizona. He can be reached at 480-423-1414 or at jrose@roseandallynpr.com.

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