On November 13th, First Lady Georganne Nixon addressed the MACAA Board and Membership. Here's what she had to say:
"As an art-lover and the honorary chair of the Missouri Citizens for the Arts, I’m delighted to join you for the annual meeting of MACAA in this beautiful setting at Les Bourgeois Vineyards.
On behalf of the Governor and the people of Missouri, I want to commend each one of you for your dedicated leadership. Thank you for all you have done, all that you’re doing today and all that you will do tomorrow to make the arts thrive in every corner of our state. Especially now, with the economic headwinds blowing against us, your selfless service to community arts agencies -- and hundreds of Missouri artists -- is making a real difference.
As you know, state revenues are down significantly. The arts have had to take a cut, just like the rest of Missouri government. The good news is that the Missouri Arts Council has been well-managed and has a significant fund balance that will allow it to operate through this fiscal year.
What brings us together today is a shared passion and a shared mission: To support and encourage the arts in all their varied forms: painting and sculpture, theater and dance, design and craft, film and poetry, literature and music.
Where did that passion start? If you’re anything like me – and I grew up in Jefferson City and went to school in Columbia – it was not what from I’d call a “Mona Lisa” moment, where I stood face-to-face with a great masterpiece in a major museum. My passion for the arts grew from something much more intimate…and close to home.
I credit the books of author Louis Slobodkin for my lifelong love of literature. I spent many dreamy afternoons, lying on my bed ( I must have been about 7 or 8) reading “The Space Ship Under the Apple Tree,” staring at its whimsical illustrations and wondering whether there was enough room in our backyard for a space ship to land. That got me hooked on reading as a kid, and on literature and writing as an adult.
Maybe your passion for the arts was kindled by the chance to sing or dance in a local production of Oklahoma. Maybe you saw a beautiful photograph of Missouri wildflowers at your bank, and that inspired you to buy a print, or buy a camera. Or maybe the sound of a community band playing Sousa marches on the 4th of July stirred you to pull that dusty trumpet case out from under the bed.
The arts are the bright, unexpected threads shot through the muted fabric of our daily lives. They bring us joy and deepen human experience. They stir our imagination. They connect us with one another. They create a tapestry that reveals who we are and what we value. The arts preserve for future generations what we think is worth listening to, looking at, talking about, remembering.
For years, community arts organizations like yours have been doing what some of our larger arts organizations are only now being forced to do by the current economic downturn. And that is – adapt or die.
For starters, you know how to collaborate.
You couldn’t survive otherwise. You have to harness the energy of hundreds of volunteers, and leverage sweat equity and micro-grants into cash and in-kind contributions from local businesses. You are collaborating constantly with schools, hospitals and nursing homes, bringing the arts to places where they can – and really do – make people’s lives better.
You stay engaged with your community.
Even in times like these, when there may not be a pot of money large enough to stage a play or turn an old barn into a new gallery, you don’t shrivel up and blow away. You’re there, active and visible: collecting canned goods for food drives, helping raise funds for civic projects and neighbors in need. You use your downtime to tend your grassroots, recruiting new volunteers and supporters. That’s key to the survival of the arts.
You create community pride and economic opportunity.
You foster the hidden talents of musicians and actors, woodcarvers and weavers in every nook and cranny of the Show-Me state. You are matchmakers, too – finding audiences and patrons for art and artists. That, in turn, creates new economic opportunity that adds to the financial and cultural diversity of sour communities.
Speaking of hidden talents, at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia last summer I spent a lot of time looking at the wonderful exhibits in the Fine Arts Building – everything from photography to pottery to watercolors. And there’s prize money. Who knew?
I’d like to invite all of you to visit with art teachers and artists in your community, and think creatively about competitions you can encourage at the local level and carry forward to the state level. The State Fair is a wonderful place to see Missouri’s riches on display, and I hope you’ll put it on your to-do list. I’m also planning to bring back the First Lady’s pie contest next summer, so bring a friend .. and a fork.
I’d like to close with a little story about a couple of special pieces of artwork that I get to see nearly every day. After Jay was elected, art teachers from all over the state sent us more than 600 slides of children’s art to review. We had to select two: one to hang in the Governor’s office in the Capitol, and another in the Governor’s Mansion.
The piece in the Governor’s office is a block print in a quilt pattern created by a 10th grader, a young girl who was a cancer survivor. I didn’t know that about her when I selected her print, but I was so happy to learn how much it boosted her spirits to have been chosen. Art truly has healing powers.
The other is a painting made by a 7-year-old girl after seeing Monet’s paintings of his famous garden at Giverny. She brought her parents, her siblings and both sets of grandparents to the Mansion to see it. Art has the power to bring generations together.
So, please, keep up the good work. I look forward to seeing your projects in my travels, and to working closely with MACAA for many years to come."
THANK YOU FIRST LADY GEORGANNE NIXON!!!!!!