Art infrastructure making headway downtown due to city support

Published 11:24 am Wednesday, November 8, 2017

To the editor:
The city deserves recognition for preparing the infrastructure for arts to become a success in Elizabethton. There are great parks, walking paths, and new bicycle routes that are making people-centric traffic a noticeable healthy addition to the town. The historic district establishment has preserved the charm of a community that preceded us. It is a wonderful place that has our cultural roots on display and continues tradition through incorporating beautiful old styles into the future designs. The living in, working in, and maintaining beautiful architecture invokes pride of a close knit community. These and many more are the things the city does very well. Thank you for managing the resources to their highest value.
Public art is a perfect fit for our townspeople, history, and new visitors. The stage has been set. We are very happy to see the Bonnie Kate Theater receiving attention from the city. Performing Arts have a wonderful following, especially in our youth. We have the East Tennessee Ballet and Watts School of Dance to build healthy and entertaining performances. The schools and churches also enhance our wealth of creative arts with singing and drama performances. The culmination of a great day of outdoor fun in our parks, waterways, and outdoor sports playgrounds, is made complete by seeing performers displaying their artistic talents in an evening on the town.
We have rich literary history being curated under the professional eye of the city’s archivist. Our musical talent has a wonderful stage in the Covered Bridge Park, thanks to your amazing insights through the Parks and Recreation Department. We are happy to see the streets blocked for folks to fill Elk Avenue with people for all kinds of events. The two walkways (Betsy and Artist walkway) are getting new tables, trees, and more public art projects. These are coming about with the help of Tourism, the Downtown Business Association, and local art professionals. The outstanding mosaics being produced by the Blue River Studio for the walkway (Artist walkway) next to Sweetsie Treats, have received excellent recognition. We are thrilled by the Bartleby student program helping with these many projects. The school system is top notch. The student-revamped historical walking tour is tying this generation artistically to our past culture.
The Blue River Studio has cultivated the finest musical talent possible to perform at the Downtown Elizabethton Farmers Market. The Art Walk was very successful and more are in the making. The Blue River Studio’s work with students to paint murals about the town is a significant start to a new and happy atmosphere. Art classes are making a new foundation in the growing economy connected to the arts and culture.
We look forward to sculpture popping up in many places. The Elizabethton Arts and Culture Alliance is working with the Appalachian State University to exchange information on materials, history, and biophilic design. The biophilic (life loving) design principles help with healthy responses to the built environment. Sculpture fits very well into the park improvements anticipated for Edwards Island and Covered Bridge parks. Again it is fantastic the service the city is delivering. Many towns support arts with one percent of new building starts to go into an art feature for the structure. Something to consider in turning the corner on a lovely legacy to pass on.
The possibilities are great in Elizabethton. Again, thanks to all the players working to make a great future.

Robert Benfield

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