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Arts sustain soul of community
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Arts sustain soul of community

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They sustain the soul, enhance the economy and uplift the populace.

That’s the consensus among local arts leaders on what music, dance, theater, visual art, poetry and other creative forms provide to the community.

“The arts are central to life itself,” said Corinne Ness, chair of the city’s Commission on the Arts. “We’re born wailing, and children sing and dance as they learn the melody of their mother tongue.”

Ness, who is dean of the Division of Arts and Humanities and associate professor of music at Carthage College, added that the arts are “a positive tool” for the well being of a community.

“They help create healthy communities that value dialogue and self-expression, “ she said. “They add value to physical spaces with aesthetic beauty. They create forums for communities to engage in critical conversations.

“And here in Kenosha, we have a vibrant, dynamic community of arts organizations.”

From schools to arts centers, studios, performers and entrepreneurs, Kenosha is a place where the arts are flourishing, she said.

According to the website of the art and art-research endeavor Kenosha Rising: “A vibrant arts sector generates creativity, fuels innovation and enriches a community’s quality of life — all of which are key to attracting new business and a dynamic workforce.

“The Kenosha Rising project — kenosharising.com — brings together the insights of local artists and localized economic data to show that the Kenosha County arts community is growing, organized and driven.”

Francisco Loyola, executive director of the multi-arts center Kenosha Creative Space, 624 57th St., said Kenosha’s artistic community is becoming increasingly important to the city’s economic and cultural development.

“I believe most culturally diverse communities have at least one thing in common: the arts,” he said. “Local galleries, murals, music, community art events, museums and alternative venues make Kenosha a community full of culture.”

Arts organizations help create a dynamic community as well as stimulate economic growth, he said.

“Non-profit arts and cultural organizations in Kenosha have helped to attract the economic investment that Kenosha County is experiencing.”

The arts also are a magnet for visitors, and help make Kenosha a tourism destination, he said.

Don Miller, owner of Kenosha Fusion, 5014 Seventh Ave., primarily a performing-arts venue, said, “I think supporting the arts for the complete community — including the school system and the Boys and Girls Clubs and other entities like Fusion — are really important to the community to make it vibrant.”

That support includes creative people who pursue their art full-time as well as those who enjoy it as an avocation, he said.

“It’s kind of a wild journey when you really think about it,” he said. “You have people who do art for a living, whether they are teachers or they own a gallery or whatever else. And there’s a lot of people who do it purely because they enjoy it, and they want to make a little extra money. It’s their hobby, basically — a creative outlet.”

That holds true for musicians as well, he said.

“Just because you’re not a touring band doesn’t mean you can’t have fun in the garage with your buddies on the weekend and play a few gigs once in a while.”

Rena Lee, administrator at Anderson Arts Center, 6604 Third Ave., takes a somewhat philosophical view of the arts.

“I have always strongly believed that the arts are an important, or in reality imperative, survival mechanism for society,” Lee said.

Without the arts, and, in turn, an appreciation of beauty and creativity, we would fail to survive as a species, she said.

“We would fail to find commonalities with each other and we would eventually divide. In truth, we would fail to feel for our fellow man and the other living organisms who live on this planet.

We would fail to see beauty at all.”

Although the arts show us what we have in common, they also allow us the freedom to think, feel and act in unique ways based on our experiences, locations and personalities, she said.

“The arts are our identification in the world, a part of our very being. They help us appreciate others for the unique creatures they are.”

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