New sculpture is for park, not exec

As Snohomish County’s Economic and Cultural Development Officer, I am writing in response to the letter, “Artwork for exec’s office insults us,” which suggests artwork recently purchased by the county is being displayed in the Executive Office.

This is not true, but with the proper context missing from the Herald’s “On the record” piece from which the writer quotes, it would be impossible to know this.

The Snohomish County Arts Commission selected “Fish Ladder,” created by local artist James Madison, for installation at Kayak Point Regional Park beginning with a call to the public for submissions in February 2011. At each step of the selection process, the community has had the opportunity to comment.

Mr. Madison’s work was selected for Kayak Point Regional Park because of its artistic merit and will be installed in late May. James’ contemporary representation of the traditional Coast Salish elements was a strong factor in his selection and fitting for placement at Kayak Point.

The installation project is part of the County Council-approved 2011 Arts Plan and is paid for though the county’s 1-percent-for-the-arts program, which since 2006 requires a 1-percent contribution to the county’s arts fund as part of county construction projects — excluding roads — that cost at least $100,000. Funds generated by the 1 percent are designated toward acquisition of visual and performing works of art for the general public.

The Economic Vitality Index has demonstrated that communities with a healthy and vibrant arts culture have much stronger economies because of that investment in the arts. Support of the arts through a percentage program is not charity, but good policy and good business. Cultural activities attract tourists and spur the creation of ancillary facilities such as restaurants, hotels and the services needed to support them. Cultural facilities and events enhance property values, tax resources, and overall profitability for communities. In doing so, the arts become a direct contributor to urban and rural revitalization.

Economic analysis has confirmed that communities that invest in the arts attract strong companies and skilled workers. Communities across the country that have made an investment in the arts have created a catalyst to generate economic impact, stimulate business development, spur urban renewal, attract tourists and area residents to community activities that improve the overall quality of life in America’s cities.

I hope as we continue to sponsor enriching cultural programs, the residents of this county will continue to appreciate and support such integral parts of our community’s quality of life.

Wendy Becker

Economic &Cultural Development Officer

Snohomish County

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