Scene in Passing: Art for art’s sake? Or for commerce, etc.? |

Scene in Passing: Art for art’s sake? Or for commerce, etc.?

John Barrette

September might prove a pivotal month when it comes to the quality of Carson City’s future.

Small actions and decisions with big consequences are imminent regarding culture and its interaction with business and government.

Perhaps for you, art and culture are in a different category. But artisans, craftpersons, musicians and theatrical people who produce things can tell you differently. They are in business and often seek business or government as partners.

It’s a competitive arena and many of them have day jobs, but their ways of adding value — though slower, say, than industry’s — can enrich lives and move money around.

Two critical dialogues begin this month when the Board of Supervisors takes up the question of financing public art and the Brewery Arts Center, which bills itself “your local arts council,” begins a strategic planning process with focus groups and a subsequent BAC leadership retreat.

First, let’s look at the public art initiative, which the Board of Supervisors will take up at 11 a.m. Thursday. The Cultural Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission both back the proposal to dedicate 1.25 percent of Carson City’s general fund capital improvement budget going forward to public art and its maintenance.

Perhaps there will be pros and cons provided in public testimony Thursday, but the goal here isn’t to add a thumb on the scales despite love of art and culture in these precincts. Public-policy decisions about spending public money should be left to the citizenry and those who serve them on appropriate governing boards.

There are always sound arguments for and against public spending. Most people side with what is important in their lives. Few question public safety or public works spending, though they may watch like hawks where it goes, but public art? You decide. The important thing is to weigh in. Your supervisors will thank you.

The BAC, meanwhile, plans focus group opportunities in the center’s upstairs ballroom at 449 W. King St.

“In order to accommodate various schedules, we offer you a choice of two focus groups for community and business participants,” said the BAC. They are on Wednesday, Sept. 11, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., or Tuesday, Sept. 17, from 4 to 6 p.m. Another alternative, if those conflict with your schedule, is earlier: this Friday from 10 a.m. until noon.

Interested persons may contact the BAC or, through it, Betsy Kosier of Interaction Alliance. She has been contracted by BAC as a neutral facilitator for the focus groups.

Culture is cool, but also can mean cold cash at times.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at