Artists’ contributions warrant gratitude

Recently, a cartoonist depicted an artist in the Star News in a stereotypical fashion as being eligible to serve as a Central MN Arts Board director because he had a beret and ascot as part of his attire. (Our nine-member board of directors was searching to fill a recent vacancy.)

The first point I want to make is the level of responsibility CMAB directors must accept to fill these positions. They contribute many hours of volunteer time on governing policies, finance oversight, program development, grant reviews and writing, just to name a few. The board includes well educated, intelligent, professional and capable people deserving of the utmost respect for the time and talent they contribute to our region.

I also am a cartoonist, so, not lacking a sense of humor, I had greater concerns about the implications of the depiction portrayed.

It is not a surprise to many people that artists are stereotyped and undervalued by the general public. The irony of this is the general public strongly supports the arts.

We want the arts to provide us an escape from the pressures of life through theater, music, dance, literature, movies, visual creations and more, but we often times forget to realize the talent and commitment that must be present before quality art is created.

The dictionary defines “artist” as follows:
1. One who creates imaginative works of aesthetic value, esp. in the fine arts.
2. One whose work shows great creativity or skill.

Artists help us see the world in new ways, add inestimable value to our society and contribute in many ways to our quality of life and economic vitality of our communities.

When art is promoted and integrated into the culture, communities revive and grow. You only need to look at our arts destinations in Minnesota: New York Mills, Grand Marais and Lanesboro, to name a few.

There are great things happening everywhere, thanks to the artists and the art they create.
Artists should be recognized for the contributions they make. — Leslie Schumacher, artist and executive director of the Central MN Arts Board