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Readers' view: Don't underestimate art as a community priority

We are answering the call from the News Tribune to weigh in on Mayor Emily Larson's priorities, especially with respect to the number-four priority, public art (Our View: "Do mayor's priorities line up with yours?" Jan. 13).

We are answering the call from the News Tribune to weigh in on Mayor Emily Larson's priorities, especially with respect to the number-four priority, public art (Our View: "Do mayor's priorities line up with yours?" Jan. 13).

As members of the nonprofit Echoes of Peace board of directors we embrace the mayor's vision and recognition of the importance of the arts in the life of a community. This particular arts organization was born under the leadership of Sara Thomsen, artistic director, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and our community's response to that tragic event. Our mission is to inspire awareness, action and reflection on critical social issues using music and the arts to build and bridge informed, engaged and caring communities.

Do we think our work is "more important" than infrastructure or economic development, than addressing poverty and disparities in education, and income? Nope. But we believe arts play a vital role in the lifeblood of the community. As Mayor Larson stated, "It includes things that tell our story across the city. And it's one of the things ... (that) brings people out of their houses, talking to each other."

This is our 15th year of doing just that, and we'll be partnering with another arts organization, Zeitgeist, around the theme, "Ubuntu: I am Because You Are," which is an ancient concept from South Africa. As Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu described this, "It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours."

Now, more than ever, we need this in our city, and we applaud Mayor Larson's understanding and recognition of the role the arts play in making Duluth a place where people can come together to share their hopes and fears and dreams with one another in a way in which we all are better as the result.

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Kathy Heltzer, Duluth

The writer is the Echoes of Peace board chairwoman.

Sara Thomsen, South Range

The writer is the Echoes of Peace board artistic director.

The following writers are Echoes of Peace board members:

Judith Babst, Duluth; Eileen Gannon, Duluth; Trish O'Keefe, Duluth; Trudy Vrieze, Duluth; Bonnie Keeling, Duluth; Debbie Isabell Nelson, Duluth

Related Topics: ARTEMILY LARSON
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