Reaching Across a Divide

Today, we feel the need to address the unity of our community and its opposite, the divisions within. We’re doing this because a respondent to our recent post “A Creative Population”, after inquiring about the STArt Project, characterized much of the writing on this blog site (Create Tucker) as self-indulged, without benefit to Tucker County students, and specifically criticized the Purple Fiddle as a cultural intrusion to Tucker County. First, let’s look at two aspects of our community: its economic potential and its diversity, using the Purple Fiddle as a case in point for both. Later we will address the STArt Project goals and how they relate these concerns.

First, regarding economic potential, the Purple Fiddle is a widely acclaimed musical venue that without question is a Tucker County destination for visitors. That means it brings business to our tourist-dependent economy—an obvious gain for the county. But despite that community contribution, the Fiddle has trouble meeting expenses. That’s no surprise, really, as performance venues generally require more than the price of entry to sustain operations, and tourist-dependent operations usually suffer seasonal ups and downs.

So the Purple Fiddle relies on tourists and other outside influences to keep it going, which brings us to the second point, about diversity in our community. Tourists and others who come here to live bring change. And relying on these outsiders for economic growth compounds the challenges of a changing culture. We think that change itself, when seen as a threat, divides our community. What’s interesting to us is that the Purple Fiddle, as a thriving venue for a variety of musical styles, is really the meeting ground where Appalachian traditional music embraces and influences many newer musical styles. It offers a compatible blend and is a wholly successful artistic endeavor. In that sense, the Fiddle honors local traditions, just as it promotes local musicians, adds to the local economy, and wins acclaim far and wide for its efforts. It’s even a popular meeting spot for many different elements of our composite community. Even so, we think some resent the fact that it embodies change.

Art can do that. It absorbs influences and reflects change. As Seth wrote in “empathy”, art allows us to see things as someone else might see them. Art does not force us do that, just as art itself does not create cultural change. Rather, it allows us to see what’s already there, in the world outside ourselves or within. Art is a window—through it one can look out and one can look in. Every generation’s artists—in all the arts—speak with new voices because they grow up in new times. Art, then, reaches across what divides us. By developing Tucker County’s art potential, along with that of its economics, threat falls away and a divided community can be seen as a composite community.

[This is long, we know, but we hope you’ll keep reading.]

Now, how does the STArt Project relate to this discussion and how does it benefit Tucker County students? First, to recap, STArt is a local program, now in its third year, that aims to bring the schools and the community together in support of art(s) instruction and activities. Previously we posted “Let’s STArt” to announce that the Tucker Community Foundation had granted $750 to STArt for the Tucker County Schools to purchase much needed student art supplies in 2011, because to make art, you need materials. We should have noted then that STArt projects in 2009 and 2010 had already given a total of $1,600 to the schools for students’ art supplies. This total of $2,350 given over three years is all money from the community for the community; the goal is to encourage students to participate in art activities and exercise their artistic abilities for their own good and for the good of the community.

In “What’s New With You” we wrote again about student needs at Tucker County High School, relaying a New Year’s wish from art teacher Linda Moser and principal James Hamric to beautify the courtyard space with a public art piece as a visible sign of school pride, and their need for community involvement to realize that dream. Then Seth’s recent post “Support” proposed four specific ideas to gain funding and support for the art programs in the schools. These posts and others stress STArt as a means of channeling community support to Tucker County students, and explore the way the arts can bond and improve the community as its members work together on students’ behalf.

STArt, as well as Create Tucker, is trying to rally our community—all parts of it—to enable our students to find their voices, to exercise their innate artistic and creative abilities as part of their future entry into all walks of life. We owe it to our students to reach across the divide, to give them opportunities to join us in building and maintaining a strong community.

What do you think? What can you contribute to reaching across the divide?

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About bruceandgerri

Bruce is a paper artist and Gerri a nature photographer who work from their Deer Run Studio in Tucker County, West Virginia.
This entry was posted in Community Arts, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Reaching Across a Divide

  1. Katie G. says:

    I’m excited to see some of these projects with the students come to fruition. I love the ideas coming out of the STArt project, especially the student art work in the court yard of the school and Seth’s suggestions in “Support.”

    After a while though, people will probably become frustrated with all the talk of ideas, so at some point we just need to take action. At some point the students need to start working on that piece to show school spirit, if they haven’t already, and have something physical to show the community rather than a lot of good ideas.

  2. bumblebee says:

    I just had not seen any solid ideas here, It got to me,
    At the end of this post are some good places to look for funding and share ideas with community groups that are just like you guys.
    Mr purple fiddle thanks for bringing music and culture to Thomas. And frankly Pioneering an art community.
    You must understand that some of the people that music venues attract are not everyone’s cup of tea, I don’t want my children around substance abuse at all, I have been to the purple fiddle several times , there was a group out side smoking , it was not cigarettes as I left with my kids, I got issues with that kind of thing …kids are welcomed and I dont think you would allow that kind of thing…but its the company that has been picked,,,,,,supporting children’s arts and eduction is great, art is a great influncer, I believe you have to be careful with the young.
    But my biggest point of my last post is that if you all want to help kids in Tucker then do it and do it for real, instead of trying to figure out the definition of of something so vague that it could be debated for a thousand more years as it has been .

    Funding is getting way tougher to get these days. I stress to you all! You got to be real creative and cost effective.
    Most of the good funding out there is in new media ,, its a must for any project to be considered for funding ,,, Pour your creativity there , come up with some inavative .ideas that educates kids everywhere on line (A Service). and With a good buisness plan . Dump a part of the revenue to the art programs for the kids of tucker county. Put your selves really on the map, corridor H is coming over the mountain soon ! Hit DC hard,
    sorry Im bitter I just have watched folks come into wv with grand ideas of helping the under severed and get funding for the past 30 years, there really has been a good bit of money waisted, good intentions vs the reallity of doing something,

    this place is an amazing sucess:
    http://heartwoodinthehills.org/

    http://www.artsactionfund.org/

    http://www.capwiz.com/artsusa/issues/alert/?alertid=13209311

    http://www.wvculture.org/newsview.aspx?Agency=Arts

    • Katie G. says:

      Bumblebee, thanks for the links to other examples of the arts extending into children’s lives in the community! I have been to Heartwood and it is a great program. Is there some place in Tucker that you think a similar program would succeed? What do you think would work best here?

      I know that each of these bloggers want nothing more than to see positive contributions to the youth of Tucker County, and you’re definitely correct that funding seems to be the hardest part.

  3. Pingback: Help Wanted: Your Creative Ideas | CreateTucker

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