According to former President George W. Bush, “The study and appreciation of the arts and humanities serve as both the unifying force in society and as a vehicle for individual expression.”
“The arts” includes everything from visual creations to music to photography to poetry and prose to dramatic and comedic productions in multiple media to verbal and written communications. Collectively, they represent our aspirations, our hopes, our dreams. They are expressions of what is important to us, what we abhor and what we adore.
We are fortunate indeed to have the Marshall County Arts Commission working – as volunteers, by the way – on behalf of the arts.
Thanks to the school district, we have an excellent venue in the Kenneth Shadowen Performing Arts Center on the Marshall County High School campus in Draffenville. Soon, we will add the new Children’s Art Center in Benton, which will provide us with a unique asset.
History is filled with anecdotal examples of naysayers who consider the arts a frivolous endeavor and who eschew the pursuit of such activities as somehow detrimental to the work ethic and to the business of doing those things necessary for the building of an infrastructure.
Even in primitive times, when most of our energy had to be devoted to survival and to laying the foundations for more prosperous civilizations, we took time for art, first in the form of images that have been found on cave walls and later in other, more sophisticated forms.
The Renaissance, the great cultural upheaval that began in the 14th century, was fueled by humans’ progress and by technological innovations such as movable type, which permitted early forms of mass communication.
The sum of all that activity helps us to understand how human culture has changed through the centuries and has provided important clues to our history. In addition, along the way and to this day, it has provided beauty in a number of marvelous forms.
We don’t argue the point that top priority should be assigned to often dirty and unpleasant work of the establishing and maintaining society’s fundamental necessities.
But we also embrace the old saw about all work and no play and what that does to us. Yes, the work must be done. But if the work itself is all the reward we can expect for our efforts, what a gray and grim existence we would have.
Murray State University is a center for cultural events not only for Calloway County and Murray, but for the region. Mayfield has an established theater and the Ice House gallery. Paducah has the Carson Center, Market House Theatre and numerous other venues.
Marshall County’s center devoted to the artistic endeavors of young people gives us a facility to serve and nurture a certain and special niche of our community.
As we move into a new year with eager anticipation of the opening of the Children’s Art Center, a hearty “Bravo!” to all those who made it a reality. n