It’s Time to Speak Up For The Arts

FULTON, NY – A few months ago, Nancy Fox said she finally stopped looking inward and wrote in her journal what she discovered: “It’s early. I can’t sleep … thinking about the desperation, the sadness and oppression here in Fulton. The drug problem is out of hand again; burglaries and robberies on the increase; property values are down; our local health care is struggling to meet the demand and taxes are the bane of our existence. The insults and bad jokes are rampant … tasteless comments about how dumb we are and how poor everyone is, corrupt and trashy to boot, and no one wants to be from Fulton. The gap in poverty and unemployment is widening and no one has anything good to say about Fulton. Wow! How depressing!”

She continues:

But soon after I noticed letters to the editor and folks on Facebook talking about the good in Fulton; people defending the city, remembering the old days, choosing to say positive things rather than complain.

It’s time to add my voice, to say I too have great hope for the future of this city. More than that, I want to contribute what I personally have to offer.

I have a passion for the arts. Fulton is my home and I would like to see it become a destination for cultural events. I want to address the ongoing deterioration of Fulton in her buildings and empty spaces and create jobs that will encourage growth and allow future generations to stay in Fulton.

A thriving arts community for visual, performing and literary artists will attract investors to the community. I believe Fulton’s positioning between Syracuse and Lake Ontario makes a perfect “arts corridor” to capture traffic naturally moving through the area to regional tourist destinations and cultural events already established.

The arts are essential to a healthy community and I believe a thriving arts environment can be nurtured to significantly impact the economic and cultural life of Fulton.

The arts have a huge economic impact on small communities. The arts support jobs, generate revenues, stimulate new business, pump creativity into the workforce and increase tourist traffic.

Travelers are documented as spending twice as much and staying longer when they visit a region for cultural events.

Restaurants, hotels, and gift shops all benefit from tourists.

The arts are good for every age. Seniors actively participating in art programs are happier, healthier and stronger. At-risk youths engaged in arts programming gain better attitudes, get into trouble less often and communicate better with more respect and improved self-esteem. Children with arts programming opportunities remain active in civic involvement throughout their lives, volunteer and participate.

A community without the arts has no color or momentum in its lifeblood.

Artists contribute to the quality of life in a community.

They share their gifts: weave stories, open imaginations and explore the depths of creativity that dwells in each of us.

Creativity is still free by the way and freedom of expression is very much alive in this country.

The arts remind us of the miracle of life and birth – the rebirth of our city – and each piece of art, created and conceived whether on a canvas, a stage, or as music to our ears, demonstrates the potential in each of us to recreate our circumstances.

When we see ourselves – or our children as creators – or our neighbors creating newness in their lives – we begin to create new experiences in our own lives, new ideas, new strategies and hope is restored.

There is wonderful art in Fulton – from the high school thanks to the valiant efforts of teachers like Tom Briggs and others; from the dedicated artists at Fulton Art Association and Fulton Community Theatre and others I haven’t met.

But for Fulton to reap significant economic and social benefits we need more opportunities for art; for anyone and everyone to make art, explore art, see art, experience art, create art and leave filled with hope and possibility transformed.

Art can do that; it has power!

We need an arts center. A place for all the arts to come and work, a stage, an art gallery, studios for rehearsals and painting and sculpting or making music, playwrights, novelists, actors, designers, musicians, visual artists in every medium.

How about recording music? A film studio for making music videos? Workshops, an art consignment shop, a comedy club, dance studios, endless ideas!

Not all at once but growth is undeniable! Can you imagine the possibilities?

Imagine the repercussions throughout our city – transformation, economic renewal, increased value, limitless potential, a real future where the possibilities are endless because creativity and the mind’s ability to imagine a better alternative are endless.

How long before we make progress on the drug problem? Delinquency issues will go down when at-risk youth have positive alternatives. Property values will go up along with job opportunities. Isn’t this exactly what we’re all moaning about?

Why stop with Fulton? Isn’t the whole county in need of revitalization, a fresh perspective on hope and prosperity?

Check out what the arts can do for tourism, businesses, the youth and senior populations.

Fulton’s position makes us the westward-bound front door of Oswego County. We can usher them in through the arts. We can become an arts corridor drawing folks from Onondaga County and beyond to the beautiful shores of Lake Ontario, by way of Fulton!

We have everything to gain and nothing to lose and we all have a stake in this whether you call Fulton home or not.

Perhaps you have resources or space or you want to talk about it or join the cause to support the arts in Fulton. Great! We need each other.

This is bigger than just one voice. But we need positive thinkers who believe in the possibilities.

We’ve had enough naysayers and whiners and insults.

I believe it is time for Fulton to rise above the crushing disappointments of the past, the loss of jobs, the defeated attitudes of poverty and despair.

It’s time to come together for the biggest project we’ve ever conceived and make it happen because the alternative is just too depressing!

We can choose to turn things around.

Join me April 14 at 6:30 p.m. at Fulton Alliance Church, Route 48 South. We’ll have a community forum to get the discussion started.

Or, call if you can’t make it but want to be heard.

We have to start somewhere.

It’s time to speak up for the arts!

For more information, call Fox at 598-8812.