When the polls opened, I delayed casting my ballot because I was conflicted about some of the candidates. Now an arts advocate, I had to consider how important the arts are to the candidates. Which ones voice and show support of the arts and arts education? Who appreciates and understands the impact that arts and cultural programs have on communities and state revenues?
For some input, I asked these questions to several people affiliated with local arts organizations. I counted on the Reno Arts Consortium, an organization comprised of leaders of arts and cultural organizations and public institutions, to supply their endorsements. But no such luck. The group did, however, invite candidates to speak at its meetings and, subsequently, wound up endorsing only Lucy Flores for Lieutenant Governor because “she openly supports the work of artists and arts education.” On the mayoral race, it was split 50/50. Perhaps that wouldn’t have been the case if Hillary Schieve hadn’t cancelled her appearance at the last minute. Raymond (Pez) Pezonella, on the other hand, did meet with the consortium and shared his interest in the arts.
So what do I know for sure? Schieve, currently the at-large member on the City Council, is the liaison between the Reno Arts and Culture Commission, Sierra Arts Foundation and Artown. Full disclosure: I’ve been on the Sierra Arts Foundation board for three months and she hasn’t attended a meeting during that time. She says she’s a huge supporter of the arts, but I have to ask myself: Then why didn’t the consortium endorse her?
The consortium also was divided on the Ward 2 City Council race, between Elisa Cafferata and Naomi Duerr, and just didn’t comment on the Ward 4 race between Paul McKenzie and Bonnie Weber.
I have to go back to what I know for sure. Duerr attended a First Thursday event at Liberty Fine Art Gallery. She even purchased a piece of art. Also, she commented on my last blog about making Reno an arts destination. She said:
“Really enjoyed your article, Geralda! Lots to mull on here. Hope everyone is ready to help the new Reno City Council take Reno to the next level, artistically speaking… ”
This comment tells me she’s open and, as someone trained in the sciences, perhaps needs more data. And she’s the only candidate who probably read my blog – she gets extra points for that!
Research, like that found in the Arts & Economic Prosperity III report by the Americans for the Arts, says if cities/communities invest in the arts, they will reap additional benefits in terms of jobs and economic growth. This seems like a no-brainer to me, but undoubtedly not all of the political candidates realize the economic value of the arts. We need men and women in office who get it, who will articulate the impact of arts on communities and who will help make Reno a vibrant creative center.
This is not the time to stay home on Election Day and not vote. In addition to securing support for the arts, we have big issues in our state and nation to consider — civil rights, women’s rights, and human rights. Your vote does matter.
“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt