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Art Council (7)

Art and Good Mental Health

artcouncil The arts offer community participation, but they also give our lives meaning, provide opportunities for self expression and offer a way of viewing the world from a different perspective - enriching both individuals and society and reaching people who may be stressed and/or often not otherwise easily engaged with their community.

According to the World Health Organization, "(good) mental health is... a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community."

So how do you maintain good mental health? It's a complex task crossing all societal levels, including (you guessed it) participation in the arts. Julia McHenry, a research associate at Curtin University in Australia, writes from her research on art and well-being:

"It is well known that community participation is a key element in individual well-being and community health….It is important that promotion, prevention, and early intervention for mental health takes place beyond the traditional mental health or even health sectors. In fact, it should take place in all the sectors that are a part of, and impact on, peopleʼs daily lives.

"People are not just exposed to risk factors, they are also exposed to protective factors, which are just as important in the maintenance of good mental health. Protective factors include (healthy) social relationships...as well as individual skills and abilities for expression and resisting stress.

"Being mentally healthy enables us to experience life as meaningful and to be creative and productive members of society. Furthermore, people who are mentally healthy are happier and generally enjoy better health, better relationships, and are more likely to live longer."

So next time you write down your thoughts in prose or verse, listen to or play some music, dance, paint, visit a gallery, act in or attend a theatre presentation, pat yourself on the back for enriching your perspective, resisting stress, and contributing to your own mental health.


The Art of Business

artcouncilBusiness is usually thought of as business and art is, well, not business. But now, consider the following quotes with introductions from Linda Naiman author of CreativityatWork.com.

"The business of the artist is to create, navigate opportunity, explore possibility, and master creative breakthrough. We need to restore art, the creation of opportunity, to business." -Brandweek.

"Miha Pogacnik, a concert violinist argues: "The world of arts must be rescued out of the prison of entertainment and the world of business must be led out of the desert of dullness of meaning!’...Art is a role model for business, since all great art pushes boundaries beyond the established norms.

The Harvard Business Review made the astonishing statement that an "MFA is the new MBA!" It reports that "Businesses are realizing that the only way to differentiate their goods and services in today's overstocked, materially abundant marketplace is to make their offerings...physically beautiful and emotionally compelling."

In reviewing The Art of Business: Make All Your Work a Work of Art (Davis, 2005) Tom Peters commented: "We are entering an economy which will value a new way of looking at value creation. They call it moving from an emphasis on ‘economic flow’ (input-output) to "artistic flow’. See yourself as an artist, see your work as a work of art, see your customers as an audience, see your competition as teachers".

Dan Pink, in his book A Whole New Mind, argues that left-brain analytical thinking is being replaced by right-brain empathy, inventiveness, and understanding as skills most needed by business. Pink points to Asia, automation, and abundance as the reasons behind the shift. He says "Logical and precise, left-brain thinking gave us the Information Age. Now comes the Conceptual Age - ruled by artistry, empathy, and emotion."

What does this mean for future jobs? We’ll see designers, inventors, social psychologists, and other right-brain folks coming out on top. Jobs without creativity will trend toward being outsourced. In light of these ideas, it becomes even more important to teach arts, enrich our island community and give our kid’s creative opportunities.

For more information: info@sanjuanartscouncil.org


Arts Council board elected

artcouncil At the first San Juan County Arts Council Board of Directors meeting held at the Orcas Hotel on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011 the following officers were elected.

President: Teddy Deane (San Juan Island)

Vice President: Lance Evans (Orcas Island)

Secretary: Dennis Ryan (Lopez Island)

Treasurer: Liz Illg (San Juan Island)

The Board of Directors will meet monthly and rotate island meeting sites. The SJCAC will continue to strive to achieve representation and represent artistic endeavors from all county islands.

For more information: info@sanjuanartscouncil.org


Art and Imagination

artcouncil What will the next 50 years be like for the kids of today? An educated guess suggests that it will be more multinational, multicultural, digital, real, virtual, and it will use music and images as much as words. It will be both more hopeful and more frightening than any era in the past and, due to the now projected 8 billion humans in 2050, insanely competitive. The coin of the realm in this world will be ideas; ideas born out of creative thinking and concentrated, cultivated, heightened imagination.

So, let's ask ourselves, how important are the arts? The arts enhance every aspect of the brain from reading, math and critical thinking to social skills and motivation. Playing music, performing, making movies, painting, writing, sculpting etc. all trigger, develop, and cultivate imagination.

Art mediums turn imagination into action; into reality or virtual reality. The arts build teamwork, community, spirit and are common ground for the disadvantaged. Arts, woven into a curriculum, change "have-to" into "want-to". The arts are also often the link holding at-risk kids in school as well, but I digress.

For the last two years I have been part of a children's presentation at the San Juan Community Theatre and have seen kids on a daily basis for over a month at a time in a highly concentrated performance setting. Some respond by achieving remarkable insight and success, others not so much. But all, I believe, are excited and enhanced by the imaginative experience.

The ability to learn, deliver lines and lyrics, move in an expressive way, work as a team, develop imaginative characters and reap the rewards of performance is an experience that informs their lives and leaves them with a sense of accomplishment and an appreciation of both the art and the craft that becomes part of who they are.

The arts provide indispensable tools and coping skills for the kids of today, who will need all the ideas from their imagination that they can summon in order to succeed in the world of tomorrow.

The ones with the greatest imaginations will be both the greatest beneficiaries and the greatest contributors to our society. Exposure to the arts is the most important gift that you can give to your child's imagination - and imagination will be their most important asset as adults in the world of tomorrow.

Teddy Deane

President SJCAC Steering Committee


The Importance of Arts to a Community

artcouncil The steering committee for The San Juan County Arts Council has selected a slate of candidates for its first ever Board of Directors, to be voted upon by the membership at its first membership meeting next month, November 3, 2011. This will be a truly historic occasion.

It will constitute the final actions of the steering committee in its long and dedicated work to bring this council to realization. But more than that, it will be the inauguration of an entity whose purpose shall be to support, protect and advocate for the arts and to focus attention on the vital link that exists between the health of the arts and the health of a community and its individual members.

This, coming at a time when government cuts in funding for the arts and to arts in education threaten to destroy the cultural balance necessary to a healthy, thriving nation, is an event of which our island community can be truly proud!

There is an enormous amount of evidence to prove that the arts are not just frills on the edges of society, but are, rather, an extraordinary economic stimulus, in addition to the vital role they play in humanizing a culture.

In particular, the importance of art in education cannot be overemphasized.

The author of “Strong Arts, Strong Schools,” and outspoken advocate of arts in education, Charles Fowler, wrote, “Because the arts cultivate the imaginative thought processes – the source of creativity – they energize the motivation to learn. These mental capacities are basic to competitive success in a global economy.”

I am deeply proud of the hardworking people in this community who created this Council and honored to be a part of the work that it is committed to doing to protect, support and honor the arts.


Talking with a skeptic

artcouncilI recently had a conversation about the SJCAC with a skeptic.

Skeptic: Isnʼt the Arts Council really just about tourism?

SJCAC: It has a substantial economic element, of course, including tourism, but it is much more. It has a wonderful comprehensive plan, available to anyone on request. Email info@sanjaunartscouncil.org. The outreach potential of this budding organization is quite staggering. At the core of SJCAC is the belief that "Exposure to the arts promotes innovation, imagination, critical thinking and collaboration, the skills necessary to live productive and meaningful lives".

With this tenet, education, performances, workshops, readings, classes, events etc.
become experiences that are necessary to nurture a well-grounded society as it meets the demands of a future full of both opportunities and challenges. In providing for the needs of the human spirit, the arts can help stabilize our community.

For example: we could help create ways for aging and disabled residents with reduced
mobility to access the arts. We could bridge a gap between multicultural groups with rich traditions and the general population. We could address the needs of generations "X" and "Y"' who seek interactive experiences

.Skeptic: There are many organizations in the County that do these sort of things, even the schools. It sounds redundant.

SJCAC: We don't believe it is. We see the organization as a county-wide umbrella, inclusive of all disciplines, and here are some of the ways in which we can support what is already in place:

  • Provide more support to grant seekers Fund arts programs and develop projects that engage and reflect San Juan's ethnic
  • communities and culture.  
  • Help existing arts organizations to provide more available ways and places to broaden, deepen and increase participation in the arts Help existing arts organizations to offer innovative learning and participatory experiences to attract new audiences and develop new talents
  • Engage younger, older and more diverse audiences by providing access to workshops and conferences Identify and engage artists who would like to be more engaged in helping others

By encompassing all the arts in the county the SJAC will be able to help, wherever
needed, to increase the availability and accessibility of art for everyone.

Skeptic: We'll see.

SJCAC: Yes you will!


Want Community Sustainability? Try Art

logo_SJC_artsIt should be obvious that an Arts Council benefits Artists. Not so obvious is the fact that Artists benefit a Community with economic stability.

The development of the arts at all levels is proven to be the single most effective way to achieve sustainable economic growth and to enrich the quality of life for all citizens. (Research from Americans for the Arts and the NEA).

Up till now, San Juan County did not have an Arts Council and technically it still doesn't, but we're getting close. Hopefully in November the first Board of directors will be elected for a San Juan County Arts Council (SJCAC). With 4000 Arts Councils nationwide, the idea is not new but it is effective and with luck San Juan County will soon be "on board".


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