At KickstART Farmington our aim has always been to build community through the arts and to support a vibrant and thriving arts scene in the Farmington/Hills community.
Over the years, our events and activities have been developed with this purpose in mind, from the Gratitude Photo Project at Art on the Grand, to the Greater Farmington Film Festival, our ONE: Two Cities, One Community project, and the opening of the KickstART Gallery & Shop.
All of this can sound lofty but in practical terms what does it mean to build community through the arts?
Let us consider five ways the arts support community building.
The arts add beauty and joy to the lives of community members. Engaging in the arts, whether through purchasing and displaying a piece of art in our home or attending a musical performance can be enjoyable experiences, bringing some beauty into our homes and lives, while watching a funny movie or play brings much needed humor and laughter to our often too-serious lives.
The arts inspire us to look more closely at the world around us and to recognize the splendor we often take for granted and as the great writer Dostoevsky noted, “beauty will save the world.”
The arts improve the health of the community. “The only time I feel alive is when I’m painting,” said Vincent Van Gogh, and the arts, as research has shown, can reduce stress, lift our spirits, serve as an antidote to loneliness and depression, enhance cognitive abilities and memory, and as noted above, offer the healing power of laughter.
The arts remind a community of its history. Our involvement in the arts can contribute to the understanding of a community’s past through historical depictions on public art and murals, the architecture of a city, historical museums, or reenactments, to parades and annual festivals.
We are fortunate to have the Zekelman Holocaust Center in our community, reminding us of the Holocaust and our role in promoting human rights and standing up against hatred and intolerance.
The arts contribute to the economy of a community. In Michigan alone, the arts contribute around $14B to the state’s economy, more than many other industries, including transportation. The arts also employ nearly 80,000 workers and almost a quarter of these are in Oakland County.
In our community there are several dozen arts organizations and creative businesses, in addition to the Cultural Arts Division in Farmington Hills, contributing to the vibrancy of the arts scene in Farmington and the Hills.
The arts bring people together. Yes, of course, the arts bring people together physically, whether in downtown Farmington for Art on the Grand, a reception at the KickstART Gallery for an arts exhibition, a concert at Riley Park or Heritage Park, a film at the Farmington Civic Theater, or a performance by the Farmington Players at the Barn.
But the arts also brings people together emotionally and strengthens relationships as viewers or audience members gather for a conversation over a drink following a film, theatrical or musical performance, or after viewing an art exhibition.
The arts play an important role in community building and together we can contribute to a community that recognizes the beauty in our diversity, promotes joy and good health, understands its history and the responsibilities that brings, and is equitably and economically sustainable.
Will you join us in building community through the arts?