Clamoring For Culture

I can’t tell you how many times or in how many places I’ve heard it. People say we just don’t have anything cultural to do in Brevard. And yet, there are many venues here for theatre, visual arts, performance and music, among others.

When you picture Miami, for instance, you think of its amazing arts scene. You imagine diverse cultures of Cuban and South American influence, painting an eclectic, vibrant picture. Miami Beach sports an art deco district with so many things to do.  Miami’s place as the crossroads between the Caribbean, South America, Central America and the United States surely has a lot to do with its cultural depth–but the issue is more than just location.

Orlando also is a crossroads with a diverse population, but its art scene can’t compare to Miami. Perhaps its struggle is the dominance of a closed tourism economy, where entertainment empires seek to capture every dollar. But it’s more than that as well.

Many sleepy seaside destinations have successfully branded themselves as art communities. They lack big city populations, cultural diversity and all the traffic found in Miami or Tampa yet they have successfully achieved what so many of us clamor for.

What is this elusive thing of which I speak? Quite simply, it’s an art market.

Cultural depth and breadth can flourish only when a community intentionally creates a market that sustains the arts. Otherwise the struggle is similar to planting a garden and never watering it, or planting it in beach sand–good luck! Only when those who want to live in such a place support the arts, can true culture materialize. Only then can it develop roots and flourish.

Dreamer by Eric NeedleRecently I was in a friend’s house and saw some great pieces decorating her walls. Chagall, Miro, Picasso. But while I admire all these European masters, they don’t do a thing for our economy. My friend loves Brevard, cares about the arts, but hasn’t bought one piece of art from a local artist. She’ll be the first to complain that she lives in a provincial little town, yet doesn’t see the answer in front of her. To become what she and many others want Brevard to be, we have to actively support local artists.

This is our problem, and even Orlando’s problem. Both of our communities have a large population of artists but none, or maybe only a handful, can make a living at it.

Never one to complain without offering a solution, I have an idea. Go out to a gallery and buy something form a local artist. Go to the Henegar Center and take in a play. Visit Cocoa Village and spend some cash. Visit the Downstairs Gallery in Historic Melbourne and support a local artist. If all of us who wished we lived in a real artists’ hamlet did this every so often, then we’d soon see a transformation. Little galleries would open. Areas would grow and before you know it, many more artists would call Brevard home.

Recently I’ve been working with the Brevard Cultural Alliance and the Strawbridge Art League, and I had no idea that we had so much quality talent here. Many people are putting their hearts and soul into building our arts community, and it shows. But until the community takes a look at its local artists and supports them, the transformation will not take place. Visit our galleries, and take home a painting. And watch Brevard truly change into a home for the arts.

For a listing of events, visit Brevard Cultural Alliance’s Arts Calendar at: www.artsbrevard.org