Monday, January 3, 2011
By Tom Wachunas
The front page article by Gayle Beck in The Repository issue of Sunday, January 2, posed a question, and then a surprising call to local action if ever there was one, starting with the headline, “What Is Stark 20/20?” The complex, decade-long project, named with the term for perfect vision, and the year 2020, seeks to determine “…your vision of progress as a community.” Further then, a mission statement: “The Repository and CantonRep.com will facilitate community conversation and promote community action to make Stark County a measurably better place to live by the year 2020.” Accompanying the article was a form (“ballot”) wherein readers can submit their ideas by listing a topic of concern, specific issue to be addressed, description of the problem, and statistics surrounding the problem. The same form appeared again in the Monday issue of the Repository, and I suspect will appear in future issues.
All of this is very heartening news to those of us who feel that our hometown newspaper has been woefully silent when it comes to presenting truly substantive observations and analysis on the arts here in Stark County. Glorified press releases about art shows are no substitute for intelligent, educational, and inspiring commentary. The last time I ranted about this poverty of critical thinking in our paper was in a post titled “The Arts Are a Contact Sport,” from April 28, 2010. You can find it in the ARTWACH archives. I still stand by what I said then, so much so that it reads like it could have been written yesterday. Surely I can’t be alone in my assessment, or in my frustration with a paper that has consistently neglected elevating its readers’ grasp of Canton’s cultural profile outside the local sports and politics milieu.
My biggest fear in this regard is that what was true in April of 2010 (and in fact was true in 2009, 2008, 2007, etc. and through the 1990s) will still be so in 2020. I’m urging anyone reading this who is either a practicing artist (this of course includes visual, musical, or theatrical artists), or is in any way sympathetic to raising the level of arts awareness and meaningful dialogue in our community, to seriously consider participating in this ongoing project. Your involvement could go a long way toward sensitizing the public at large to the necessity and relevance of growing the arts not just in our immediate community venues, but also in nurturing sustainable arts curricula in ALL our schools.
You can e-mail letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org Make sure you put “Stark 20/20” in the subject line. You can also e-mail Gayle Beck, editorial page editor, at email@example.com or call her at (330) 580 – 8308, or post a question or comment to her new Stark 20/20 blog at cantonrep.com