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Arts center can revitalize Federal Way | Letter to the editor
Letter to City of Federal Way, Mayor Jack Dovey and city council members:
As a concerned citizen and a supporter of the arts, I would like to share my thoughts regarding a proposed performing arts center for the City of Federal Way.
I believe most of us appreciate the benefits of the arts, their beauty and vision; how they inspire, soothe, provoke and connect us. And, though Federal Way is blessed with a professional symphony, a talented theater company, vocal groups and dance companies, we lack a proper venue for their staging. At best, many of these groups perform in rented church space, and/or use space available in a neighboring city.
I believe that the City of Federal Way has not positioned itself to compete in our 21st century creative economy. Though we are the eighth largest city in the state of Washington, we do not have a performing arts center. We are struggling to find ways to develop our downtown core, stimulate and revitalize our business economy, and create a center for our diverse community to gather and enjoy our unique talents and gifts.
When it comes time to make tough funding decisions, our elected officials need to have strong and credible data that demonstrates the economic benefits of a vibrant non-profit arts and cultural center. According to a recent study titled “Arts and Economic Prosperity III,” investment in the arts produces additional jobs, economic growth for local businesses and enhanced quality of life for the community:
“Arts and cultural organizations — businesses in their own right — leverage additional event-related spending by their audiences that pump vital revenue into local restaurants, hotels, retail stores and other local businesses. A typical arts attendee will spend $27.79 per event in addition to the cost of admission. And when a city attracts cultural tourists, it garners even greater economic rewards. Non-local audiences spend twice as much as their local counterparts. Arts and culture are magnets for tourists.”
One only needs to look to our neighbors to the south to see the gigantic impact the arts have made on the City of Tacoma and its economic revitalization. Across America, cities that once struggled economically are reinventing and rebuilding themselves by investing in the arts and culture. It is now our time to stimulate and develop a vital community in Federal Way that supports the arts.
With a new performing arts and conference center, we will create a catalyst for learning, discovery and achievements within our community and our children will benefit from a diverse cultural experience in the arts. An enlarged lobby will allow for much needed ballroom and meeting space so that our local fund-raising events can be held within our city and not neighboring city venues. The space would complement the performing arts center and leverage future hotels. We could create an outdoor gathering space for our local community festivals and farmers market. A multi-use space could be used for special programs, community meetings, private functions, an artist’s gallery and exhibition hall.
The new arts facility will bring inspiration and enjoyment to residents, beautify shared public spaces, strengthen our city economically, and enrich our quality of life. Local performing groups and artists deserve to have a theater that will enhance their artistic abilities. And our citizens deserve a professional production in an appropriate venue within our city core.
Please take action and say “yes” to revitalize our city and build a performing arts center now.