“The arts empower. The arts give a voice to the voiceless. The arts help transform American communities and, as I often say, the result can be a better child, a better town, a better nation and certainly a better world. Let’s champion our arts action heroes, emulate them and make our communities everything we want them to be.”
~ Robert L. Lynch, President, Americans for the Arts
Inspiring words from a leader of an organization whose mission is advancing arts and arts education in America. I believe these words to be true. Art can change a community—the world—for the better. I believe it, because I’ve seen it in our own community.
And research backs up the claim too. A 2002 Princeton University study reveals that there is a measurable impact that the arts pose on communities. The study showed a correlation between strong arts participation and presence, and prosperity in a community, economically, socially and individually.
The Economic Impact
Just go to any concert at Les Schwab Amphitheater in the summertime to see evidence of an economic impact of art in Bend. It’s not surprising that when a community’s arts offerings increase, tourism tends to follow. We are in a strong tourism town that boasts a lot of outdoor adventure. But tourists also come for the concerts, theater, festivals, galleries and other offerings that showcase the talents of a variety of local, regional and national artists. Visit Bend even offers visitors a “Roundabout Art Tour” of our growing collection of public art. And while recreational tourism typically relies on Mother Nature, arts tourism can happen virtually year-round.
Take “Tenth Month” as an example. October is in “shoulder season”, straddling the boom months of summer and snow sports of winter. And, it’s also when a lot of great celebration of ideas, art and innovation occurs, bringing thousands of visitors to Bend at a normally slow time of year. I have many friends who travel from other places just to attend the BendFilm Festival.
Art also attracts more residents to our area, attracting more businesses. And before you bemoan that fact (I’m looking at you, locals), remember that growth has a positive economic impact on our community and leads to more investment and stability. Art provides a greater quality of life for residents, and leads to a more diverse, creative community.
The Social Impact
Art naturally draws people together—people that might not necessarily interact with each other otherwise. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s witnessed a variety of people at a park concert dancing together, spanning from age 2-82, and loving every minute of it. Art is a powerful tool of building community in a safe, approachable environment. And in recent years, I’ve seen more and more of this happening throughout Bend, from large venues to small coffee shops and breweries.
We all have a variety of interests, different cultures and backgrounds, a breadth of experiences. But when a performance, book reading, gallery opening, or film screening brings us together, we find that we are more alike than different. It’s an important reinforcement during times when our country is more divisive than ever.
The Individual Impact
As a longtime supporter of Caldera, an arts organization aimed at underserved youth in Oregon, I’ve seen first-hand how art can ignite self-expression and transform an individual and the way they interact with their community.
Research suggests that arts impacts an individual in three specific ways: psychologically, physiologically and creatively. The psychological effects of observing and participating in the arts are increased happiness and life satisfaction, along with a greater sense of self-esteem and control over one’s own life. Physiologically, the social bonds made through the arts decrease depression and stress, both shown to impact physical health. Finally, the arts increase creativity and skill level, especially in those who participate. Those who observe tend to gain “cultural capital”—in other words, they become cultured. And who doesn’t want to be a little more cultured?
Bend—An Arts Mecca
When you stop to think of all the amazing arts organizations and initiatives going on in Bend, and Central Oregon—2nd Street Theater, BEAT, CO Symphony, High Desert Chamber Music, Art in the High Desert, Sisters Folk Festival, BendFilm, Scalehouse, Tower Theatre, The Art Station, Bend Art Center, and I could go on—it’s pretty impressive for a city of our size.
Our leaders have recognized the importance art has on our economy, which led to the Bend Cultural Tourism Fund which supplies grants from a portion of room tax monies collected, to support arts and culture programs that drive tourism.
Bend recently selected its first creative Laureate, a 2-year position with a mandate to serve as liaison between the community and artists in the region (congratulations Jason Graham, aka MOsley WOtta!).
We may not have a performing arts center (yet), but with a growing appetite for arts and now a 4-year university, I wouldn’t be surprised if we have one in the next few decades.
Finally, I’m proud to be a part of a company that values and financially supports the arts. From being a founding sponsor of BendFilm and Cascade Festival of Music, to matching dollars to invest in public art, Brooks Resources has long given generously to our arts community and is a leader in supporting a dynamic and diverse arts scene in Bend. In fact, I was honored to help accept an award in 2014 on behalf of Brooks Resources from the Americans for the Arts, as one of the Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America.
About the Author
Romy has been with Brooks Resources for over 25 years. After graduating from the University of Oregon, School of Journalism, she started her career with the company as the administrative assistant to the general manager at Mount Bachelor Village. In 1996 she began working as the marketing coordinator at the corporate office, then was promoted to Director of Marketing shortly thereafter. She now serves as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing, overseeing all aspects of sales and marketing for each Brooks Resources project. In 2004 she was named project manager for North Rim and in 2013 became project manager for The Tree Farm. Romy is a licensed real estate broker in the state of Oregon.
Having a passion for civic engagement and connecting people, Romy serves on the boards of the Oregon Community Foundation, High Desert Museum, and Art in Public Places. She is chair of the Oregon Community Foundation Leadership Council of Central Oregon, and serves on the Advisory Board for The Bloom Project, of which she was a founding board member. This past year Romy concluded a nine year term as a board director for Oregon Public Broadcasting and continues to serve as a Central Oregon Ambassador. An Oregonian, avid outdoors enthusiast and animal lover, Romy and her husband are parents to two pitbulls and take full advantage of the recreation Central Oregon has to offer.
Romy is a Leadership Bend alumna, Class of 2000.