“If you have only two pennies, spend the first on bread and the other on hyacinths for your soul.” — Proverb
In 2000, while serving as an elected councilman for the city of Oviedo, I convinced my fellow councilmen to put on the ballot a $10 million initiative to construct “my” vision for a combination Crealdé-style arts center and performing arts theater.
I had identified a 40-acre parcel, of which 10 acres were buildable for a theater and arts facilities. I anticipated multiple classrooms for art, galleries and a 400 to 500-seat theater that 18-wheelers could back into and unload productions. I envisioned an Oviedo (eastern Seminole County) theater troupe. I also planned to have a full “institutional” quality kitchen adjoining a large meeting room (adjoining galleries) to host banquets and community groups. All this surrounded by gardens and walkways through the remaining 30 acres of tree-covered lowlands, with outdoor art liberally interspersed.
I announced to the Orlando Sentinel that if the voters didn’t want an Oviedo arts center that they should not re-elect me. The center was approved by about 35 percent of those voting. It and I lost. My loss of public office was inconsequential. I am not at all disposed to the process of “running” for office. While serving, however, I had accomplished my immediate goal of dealing with “roads” in Oviedo.
I deeply regret not convincing another 16 percent of the electorate that such a center would be a community asset of inestimable long-term value. That it would, among other things, distinguish Oviedo as a unique and leading community within the Orlando metro-area.
Mine is no cautionary tale. I failed because I did not convincingly convey a clear vision of how art (its creation, display and accessibility) makes for a richer (in every sense of the word) community. You must invest to profit.
“The arts are the best insurance policy a city can take on itself.” —Woody Dumas, former mayor of Baton Rouge, La.
The city of Maitland is at a crossroads. You have what many cities across America could only wish for – an established art treasure in the form of the Maitland Art Center. It has a long, illustrious history. A history of national repute. The center requires “significant” municipal financial support to fix long overdue structural issues. It needs an unqualified Council endorsement and assurances that, going forward, the city of Maitland will commit the financial resources to ensure that this community treasure flourishes.
“In the third year of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln ordered work to go ahead on the completion of the dome of the Capitol. When critics protested the diversion of labor and money from the prosecution of the war, Lincoln said, ‘If people see the Capitol going on, it is a sign that we intend this Union shall go on.’ Franklin Roosevelt recalled this story in 1941 when, with the world in the blaze of war, he dedicated the National Gallery in Washington. And John Kennedy recalled both these stories when he asked for public support for the arts in 1962. Lincoln and Roosevelt, Kennedy said, ‘understood that the life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of the nation, is very close to the center of a nation’s purpose – and is a test of the quality of a nation’s civilization.” — Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
The Maitland City Council is being tested. Demonstrate leadership/vision. Invest and your community profits.