Arts Commission is worth a try

Oak Harbor businesswoman Nancy Sanders made a sound proposal to the City Council that an Arts Commission be appointed to promote the arts in the city.

Sanders’ presentation was impressive if a bit grandiose at times. The city is presently in no position to purchase the old Copeland Lumber site and turn it into a garden of art, but she is correct that such an attraction would make an outstanding entrance to the city. Perhaps it could be the long-term goal of the Arts Commission.

In the meantime, the Arts Commission, which would be a panel of volunteers, could be cheerleaders and publicists for the arts, and serve as a link between the city and artists living in the North Whidbey area.

With its military heritage and pro-business history, Oak Harbor is usually excluded when people think of Whidbey Island places known for their art. Langley and Coupeville are mentioned widely, and Bayview is an up-and-coming arts center, but Oak Harbor remains the place you got for Wal-Mart, not wall-art.

This is not to say there is a lack of artists on North Whidbey. Many talented artists live here and some belong to private arts organizations. They show their work in restaurants, in parking lots, in area art shows, or whatever venue is available on a given weekend. It would be a great addition to have a city Arts Commission to bring these artists together and let them know that their efforts are appreciated by the community. A city without a thriving arts community is missing something very important.

Nancy Sanders should be commended for the research she did in before making her presentation to the City Council, and for her enthusiastic support of improving the arts scene in Oak Harbor. If she’s willing to lead in the creation of an Arts Commission, the City Council should give her the support she needs.

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