Thursday, October 19, 2000

Art lovers convene here, explore its links to everyday life

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        About 200 artists and arts supporters will meet in Northern Kentucky this week to learn ways the visual and performing arts can be used to improve the quality of life in towns across Kentucky.

        “Building Communities Through the Arts: A Toolbox of Best Practices for the 21st Century” opens today with workshops on cultural heritage tourism and technology basics for artists and crafters.

[photo] Waiting to take the stage are performers with Circus 2000, presented by the troupe My Nose Turns Red. They gave a show Wednesday at Devou Park.
(Enquirer file photo)
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        “We're finding that the arts are an integral part of everyone's lives and that they play a big part in building better communities, hence the (conference) name,” said Ed Lawrence, public information officer with the Kentucky Arts Council.

Four themes
        This year's conference will focus on four major themes: building collaborations between artists or arts organizations and unlikely partners; the changing audience for the arts because of demographics and technology; and arts education and advocacy.

        While the three-day conference is based at the Marriott Hotel at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, tours will be offered today and Friday of Northern Kentucky's cultural assets, ranging from the historic Dins more Homestead in rural Boone County to the African-American Museum at the Northern Kentucky Community Center in Covington.

        “The arts contribute to the quality of our lives,” said Jean St. John, community arts coordinator at the Covington Community Center. “They help tell us who we are, and where we want to go. They also contribute to our local economy. When communities are looking to bring people in and attract new industry, one of the ways they sell themselves is through their arts organizations.”

Enhancing community
        Charlie Pangburn, chairman of the board of the Northern Kentucky Cham ber of Commerce, agreed.

        “It's a workers' market right now, and if you have something special to offer, that can be a big factor in your growth and development,” Mr. Pangburn said. “I think when people are relocating, they look at education, they look at housing, and they look at the arts.”

        In Covington's Peaselburg neighborhood, several generations have worked since mid-August to create a community mural on a building wall that had been a magnet for graffiti, said Kelly O'Moore, family resource center coordinator for Glenn O. Swing Elementary School.

        My Nose Turns Red, a Covington based circus, will entertain conference attendees at a kickoff reception tonight. It is among several Northern Kentucky groups that will provide entertainment at this week's conference.

        As one of 26 board members on the Tristate's new Regional Cultural Alliance, Gwen Finegan said the arts are something that people can relate to on a personal level.

Art as inspiration
        Ms. Finegan credits her visits to the local art museum and the symphony as an adolescent growing up in Baltimore with helping her overcome her depression when her mother died — and deal with the usual traumas of adolescence.

        “I was looking for something that could give me greater meaning, as well as personal relief,” Ms. Finegan said.

        “I know from my own experience that the arts can transform people's lives.”


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