Greetings and Happy New Year from the Executive Director.
This continues to be a challenging time for those of us who work in the arts, but with challenge comes opportunity.
I was struck by the art of the possible while listening to political strategist and blogger Matthew Dowd at a recent advocacy gathering in Washington DC, convened and sponsored by the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) for the heads of state arts agencies and other arts leaders from the West. Dowd, chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney '04 presidential campaign, talked about how polarized politics is right now, both in our nation's capital and across the country. "The overlap between liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats is virtually nonexistent," Dowd said.
People are looking for unity, however, and "we can link the arts to that need," Dowd said.
Dowd told the Western arts leaders that it is incumbent upon us to present solutions and to build relationships with depth. "The arts need to be part of the conversation and the conversation needs to be values-based," Dowd said. "We need positive narratives and stories. ... We need authenticity."
People want solutions that resonate with their gut or heart, not their head, Dowd said. Dowd noted that the late Steve Jobs, Apple cofounder and visionary, was at his core an artist and a creative. Creativity and innovation are the new drivers of our economy and society, Dowd said.
We need to focus our efforts locally and show how the arts are part of the solution in our communities, Dowd said.
New Mexico Arts has launched an updated website for our New Mexico Fiber Arts Trails that was overseen by former project manager Carol Cooper who recently retired. Kudos and Happy Trails to Carol who leaves a wonderful legacy with the updated Fiber Arts Trails website. The site features a Google map-based search tool for visitors, and new "Resources for Artists" section that includes business resources and funding opportunities for artists and arts enterprises.
As Governor Susana Martinez noted in her welcome message on the updated website, our Arts Trails are designed to put our New Mexico artists on the map and bring the market to them. "Explore and support creativity at its source, as you travel our scenic roads and see the enchanting landscapes that inspire our artists," Governor Martinez said.
I also want to give a shout out to the "Trail Mix: A Taste of the Trail and Demo Day" held in Tome in December by one of our community-based Arts Trails, the Arts and Heritage Trails & Rails in Valencia County. Organizers Heidi Snell and Jan Pacifico made tasty packets of trail mix to hand out to visitors, who were able to partake in food samples from local restaurants, visit artist demonstrations and purchase art, as they learned about this project sponsored by New Mexico Arts. The Arts Trails program is one of our economic development and cultural tourism initiatives at New Mexico Arts for which we continue to get national recognition. Art does work as a catalyst in the creative economy.
New Mexico Arts and other divisions of the Department of Cultural Affairs will celebrate Culture Day at the State Capitol in Santa Fe, on Monday, January 23, during the legislative session. New Mexico Arts staff will be on-hand all day at our booth right off the Rotunda. So please come by and say hello, learn about our programs, and let us know what's on your minds.
Culture Day is a great time to schedule a meeting with your local state legislators at the Capitol to remind them of the importance of state funding for the arts. Like so many other states, New Mexico continues to face budget challenges but it is critical that the arts not be singled out for excessive cuts during the 30-day legislative session that begins on January 17.
Our Seventh Annual State Finals for the Poetry Out Loud national recitation contest for high school students will be held Sunday, February 12, beginning at 1 p.m., in St. Francis Auditorium in the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe. Please come and watch our talented students compete. The winner will represent New Mexico as our state finalist in the Poetry Out Loud national championship this spring in Washington DC. Centennial Poet Levi Romero will perform during our state finals this year.
I want to congratulate and acknowledge Arts Commissioner Sherry Davis of Santa Fe who was named chair of our advisory New Mexico Arts Commission by Governor Martinez. Sherry is a dynamo, with great experience and passion for the arts, it is a pleasure working with her in this new capacity.