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LETTER: Arts Commission Chair Encourages Arts Support In Vision Plan

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 [1]. 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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