There comes a point in most of our lives when it becomes necessary to be able to move outside of ourselves, and see ourselves as others see us - whether we be spouses, lovers, employers, politicians, artists or boards of directors.
That time may have come for the members of the Walton Arts Center board of directors, who while taking up at the chant of “Regionalism!” fail utterly to understand why anyone in the great city of Fayetteville might take umbrage at their recent actions.
The bitter truth is that cities compete for tourist/tax dollars, and when the actions of the WAC board seem to benefit one region in particular, perhaps they should just hit the mute button on their microphones before extolling the virtues of regionalism when they talk to the folks in Fayetteville.
As long as Fayetteville buys into the “We’re all in this together, folks, heh heh” line the worse off we will be. We aren’t Bentonville or Rogers, Jr. We are Fayetteville, damn it, which has supported the creative spirit for decades - something other cities in our midst can not claim. We need to shout that out at the rooftops, and the regionalism folks be damned.
Well, at least the regionalism folks haven’t asked that the Washington County Fair be held in Bentonville.
Two and a half million dollars from a “long-time” WAC sponsor as one of the key factors in moving the Arkansas Music Pavilion from Fayetteville to Rogers? Who is the unnamed donor? They won’t even tell us the name of an individual whose largesse is one of the key factors towards removing a key entertainment attraction in Fayetteville?
It ain’t $500, it’s $2,500,000 we’re talking about here.
Why the need for secrecy?
Is the donor in the Witness Protection Program?
Or might folks be upset if they knew who the “long-time” sponsor is? Would it just confirm their worst suspicions about the fealty of the WAC board, and most especially, that of CEO Peter Lane?
Yeah, that’s a little harsh. But when you keep stuff like the above secret, you sort of invite speculation like that.
When WAC board members dismiss “process” - you’re board members for crying out loud! Do you have any rules at all, or just make it up as you go along? - they invite such speculation.
Former New York mayor Ed Koch would stop people on the street and ask, "How'm I doin'?"
Perhaps it is time that members of the Walton Arts Center board started asking folks the same question.
"How are we doin'?"
And not with surveys filled out by patrons of WAC, but by asking ordinary folks - who may or may not even use WAC. What they need to be asking about is how people view them, and what effect they are having on the world-at-large.
It can be a humbling experience, when you are able to step outside your comfort zone, and see yourself as others see you. But the board members of Walton Arts Center, which may soon reorganize itself to reflect a more regional approach to their work, might well learn how to do this.
Drop in at any bar or restaurant on Dickson Street, or anywhere Northwest Arkansas artists get together. Take a field trip together to a local gallery, or a meeting of the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective.
Come to Fayetteville Public Access Television, where talented men and women work to show their talent to the world. Come to the Farmer’s Market, set up a booth, and ask folks their opinions.
And while you are at it, let us know who dropped 2.5 million dollars in your lap to help move the Arkansas Music Pavilion from Fayetteville; it seems only fair.
Quote of the Day
I don’t ask for the meaning of the song of a bird or the rising of the sun on a misty morning, There they are, and they are beautiful. - Pete Hamill