The issue is this: the arts community has a responsibility to get involved in policy decisions on the city level. This is a policy decision. We are deciding if we want to be a creative city, one that vigorously takes an attitude about having art as a part of our everyday life. Janet Zweig's project does that perfectly. She integrates art into the mundane street life of Milwaukee. The money has been approved, there is nothing to gain by killing this project, but much to be lost if we as an arts community do not take affirmative action and tell the aldermen on the Common Council's Public Works Committee that Zweig's project is important, and has everything going for it as a real potentially engaging public arts project.
So, what do we do. Let's make our pleas reasonable and personal. Let's contact the people that matter as a big, growing force of positive advocates As a member of the Creative Coalition task force, I am also sending the following short letter to my fellow members immediately stressing the importance of all of us to take some immediate action:
Dear Task Force Leaders,
I'm not above writing this letter and saying that if we do not take immediate action as a group in terms of the debacle going on over Janet Zweig's public art project, that we are only going to be seen as a toothless group that likes to meet and discuss things and never take action. This is an important moment in the creative future of our city. Let's figure out a time when a good number of us can meet and City Hall and organize face time with alderman to help explain why this is an important project to support.
Let's do it. Let's take a chance. It's time to get in the game.
We are talking a lot on an organizing level as a community about changing the rhetoric about arts advocacy in this community and its value in the lives of all our citizens. Talk is good, but there comes a time when you finally have to say, "I don't know if I can run the marathon, but I sure feel like trying." It's that time.
Individually, I strongly urge you all to contact the members of the Public Works
Committee for the Common Council. These are the names and addresses of the alderman to contact:
ALderman Robert Bauman: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alderman Robert Donovan: email@example.com
Alderman Joe Dudzik: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alderman Robert Puente: email@example.com
Alderman Willie Wade: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you're looking for inspiration on what to write, I'm including the letter I have sent.
Dear Aldermen Bauman, Donovan, Dudzik, Puente and Wade,
As a concerned citizen and a member of the Milwaukee arts community, I am writing to strongly urge you to not block the implementation of Janet Zweig's public art project.
Ms. Zweig's inspired project puts into form the essence of what is great about our city: a celebration of the old and the new. Her planned project shows a great understanding of our civic personality, a joy for the rich traditions that have made our city one of the finest places in the nation to live and work, and an unambiguous expression that Milwaukee is a place where creativity fundamentally exists on every street corner and city street.
Her work on this project will ultimately be supported by local artists and arts enthusiasts. It is a tremendous example of a well-reasoned plan for civic pride through creative interactivity. The project has already been evaluated by a group of our state's leading arts professionals, and I see it as a thrilling way for our city to continue to promote itself as a metropolitan area that prides itself on creativity and community building.
Ms. Zweig's project is an important one that I believe in strongly and hope you will ultimately support.
All we can do is try. If we don't we only have ourselves to blame.