On Parr with town identityPublished 1:21pm Thursday, October 17, 2013
“In Minnesota, the arts define who we are. This is a place where people are transformed by high-quality arts experiences, and see the arts as essential to their communities. The arts are integrated into all aspects of our lives, connecting people of all ages and cultures, fostering understanding and respect.” — The Minnesota State Arts Board
On Oct. 11, I committed an act some other journalists would frown upon: I bought a Charlie Parr record while covering his Caravan du Nord concert at the Paramount Theatre.
While few would argue buying a musician’s album is as egregious as a reporter buying a politician’s bumper sticker and then covering a rally, many in the field would still view it as taboo.
But, I knowingly and willingly broke this unwritten rule, because I think it’s more important to support independent musicians both locally and around the state.
As a number of musicians pointed out during a Caravan du Nord panel at Riverland Community College, it’s not a lucrative time for musicians trying to make a living through their craft. That, however, doesn’t make the craft any less valuable.
Talks of community betterment often focus on business and industry. But while business is key to a city’s livelihood, music and the arts is vital to a community’s identity. Plus, it’s often a draw for potential residents.
Minnesota — especially the Twin Cities — has a reputation for having a vibrant arts community. In 2000, the “Places Rated Almanac” rated the Twin Cities eighth out of 354 metropolitan areas in the arts. Though business-minded people may not see this as a money-making opportunity, it’s a key selling point when people are considering moving to Minnesota communities.
Many people tend to overlook or downplay the importance of the arts, thinking that supporting the arts in a community is somehow downplaying the role of business. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The two can — and should — be partners in a community, not adversaries where only one can succeed.
The Caravan du Nord concert and workshops in Austin Oct. 11 was a reminder that Austin is making strides when it comes to the arts. With the Austin ArtWorks Festival, parts of Vision 2020 and the potential merger of the Austin Area Commission for the Arts and the Austin Area Art Center, it’s an exciting time for the arts in Austin.
I could have easily bought Parr’s album online or at a Twin Cities record store rather than buying it at the Oct. 11 concert. But, I preferred to buy the album directly from Parr, cutting out any vendors and their fees.
As Austin’s arts community grows, it will be vital to support individuals. The ArtWorks website describes the festival as “a major investment in the culture of Austin.” A key, year-round part of that investment is supporting artists and musicians.