LETTER: Arts Commission Chair Encourages Arts Support In Vision Plan

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Dear Editor –

Some thoughts on the Vision Plan

Last week I had the honor of presenting a letter to the Burien City Council which stated the position of the Burien Arts Commission in response to the draft of the Vision Plan which was under consideration at that time. The full document of that statement can be read online here. Representatives from local arts organizations and concerned citizens also spoke at the meeting, expressing their passionate – and reasonable – desire for integration of Arts and Culture into the Vision Plan. At this past Monday’s Open House there was also an impressive turnout of Arts and Culture supporters providing input on the greatly improved version of the Plan.

Members of the Arts Commission, in concert with members of Arts, Culture and Heritage organizations in Burien, as well as actively engaged local residents, have presented a unified message to the Council and the Steering Committee that we believe Arts and Culture to be an essential element of our city’s identity, and as such, need to be explicitly incorporated as an essential element of our city’s plans for the future. We are not advocating for recognition of the importance of Arts and Culture in the purely abstract sense – although there is certainly intrinsic value in artistic endeavor as well as expressions of culture, both at the individual and group level – but rather for supporting and promoting Arts and Culture because of the direct and demonstrable impact on economic vitality. A city with a thriving mix of performance, visual arts, arts education opportunities, culturally-themed events, public art, and preservation/presentation of heritage and history, is a city where people want to spend time, and where people want to spend money. That measurable economic impact ranges from theater attendees patronizing local restaurants and bars before or after a show to families buying real estate because of the arts-related activities available to their children.

My prime directives as Chair of the Arts Commission are to encourage support for Arts and Culture in our city, and help to facilitate the events and activities that emerge as a result of that support. But as a resident I have a vested interest in many other elements of our city as well. I have lived in Burien for more than half of its life as a city, and during that time I have seen its gradual transformation into a vibrant, active community. Arts and Culture have played a tremendous role in developing that character. Burien is no longer just the downtown that I drive through to get to work; it is a destination in its own right. In recognizing the events, activities and visual appeal that make Burien what it is – so many of which require support and promotion of Arts and Culture – we keep our city on the right path building respectability and recognition: internally, among our residents, and beyond, among our Puget Sound neighbors.

Vision Plan facilitator Brian Douglas Scott and the members of the Steering Committee have taken on a daunting task. After six months of strategizing and information gathering they have had to translate a large body of input and feedback from citizens into a distillation of city identity and a framework for the future. I want to offer heartfelt thanks for the dedication and hard work that the team has put into the project. At each stage in the process it has been clear that the priorities and aspirations of local citizens were integral to the end product. I am confident that when the process is complete and the Vision Plan has been adopted we will be satisfied with the results. The current draft of the Vision Plan will be on display at the Wild Strawberry Festival this coming weekend. I encourage each of you to read it and provide your thoughts on how it reflects your desires for what you want the Burien of the future to look like.

– Virginia H. Wright
Burien Arts Commission

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3 Responses to “LETTER: Arts Commission Chair Encourages Arts Support In Vision Plan”
  1. Chloe says:

    I agree, Virginia! This kind of forward-thinking that Burien is becoming known for is part of the reason my family decided to move here. And while there are so many aspects to Burien that make it a desirable place to live and raise a family, the thriving arts community (and the obvious support of that community by the city government) is a major one! It is something to be proud of that Burien is becoming known for the arts scene and I’ve witnessed first hand how the inspiration of the art going on here has translated not only in the enrichment of Burien’s citizens, but how it also directly relates to money coming into the city. Nine times out of town, when friends are coming to visit from other areas outside of Burien, it’s related to some sort of arts and culture event. And while they’re here they not only acquire a deeper appreciation for this town, but they also end up shelling out some dough!
    I’m excited to see what is to come and truly hope that the arts will be represented strongly in the Vision for Burien official plan.

  2. Andrea says:

    Thank you Virginia! I moved to Burien from Fremont 4 years ago because of the vibrant arts scene and family friendly atmosphere. Without the arts and support for the arts in our community we risk losing a lot more than “vision” in our lives.

  3. Greg Duff says:

    I don’t think people fully realize the importance of the arts to the community. When my daughter was around 4 years old, we became active in a group called Seattle Performing Arts Fellowship (SPAF) which is a Christian theater group. My daughter and I had the best time doing musicals together on stage in this neighborhood group. Now my daughter is in her mid 20’s and the time she had on stage has taught her to be poised, able to express herself in front of others and it taught her a true appreciation for the theater. SPAF has gone by the wayside but the same group (on a much smaller scale) still does plays at the Burien Evangelical Church.
    I would love to see an arts “benefactor” in Burien. I believe there is someone out there who would be more than willing to contribute to the arts in Burien. Too often arts are the first thing to be cut from school programs in tough economic times and this is a huge mistake.
    As a candidate for Burien City Council, I will support the arts in Burien. I have seen first hand what it has done for my daughter and I would like to see many other kids have the same opportunity.

    Thank you for you hard work, Virginia, in bringing this very worthy cause to our attention.

    Greg Duff
    Candidate for Burien City Council

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