At the heart of being able to build new careers and enterprises for small rural communities is the commonwealth. It consists of 12 key assets that come from the community and that can be enhanced or invested in to create even more resources for the people of the community. Ogallala Commons believes in the value and purpose of the commonwealth, and we want to do as much as possible to help the communities we serve find and steward the assets that they have. One such asset that exists in every community is Arts and Culture.
What is Art and Culture?
On our website, we define art and culture as “the shapes, colors, and contours of our locality and region, as well as our way of viewing the place, plus our habits, our attitudes, our celebrations, our songs, and our dances.” With this definition, we see that art goes beyond a painting or sculpture—although we think that is definitely a part of it. Instead, it encompasses all in a community that is beautiful and is part of that community’s unique identity.
This covers everything from the beauty of the landscape, to the work of a local artist, to celebrations that occur each year, to the dances and traditions that make up the life of the people.
Why is Art and Culture Valuable to a Community?
We believe that art and culture is valuable to a community for several different reason.
First, art (and even culture) allows for a freedom of expression that is often as necessary as the ability to communicate with our words.
Secondly, the beauty we take in through colors, shapes, people, and landscapes not only allows us to express ourselves in a visual way, it is also incredibly good for our hearts and souls.
Third, the culture of each community is a part of its identity. The traditions, rituals, and even dances that have been part of its history have a lasting impact of the people in the community even today.
Take a moment and imagine a world without art or culture. Imagine how bland it must be, offering no beauty, creativity, or history for people. It’s not a world many of us would enjoy inhabiting, and it’s a small reminder as to why art and culture is so important to our communities today.
Can You Identify the Art and Culture in Your Community?
Now that we have established why art and culture is valuable to a community, it’s important to identify it in our own community. Take some time to ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the art in my community?
- How can this art be shared with and made known to the other members of my community?
- How could this art be stewarded in such a way that it is preserved and benefits the other members of my community?
- What is the culture of my community?
- How can it be shared with and treasured by my fellow community members?
- Is there a way the culture of my community could be stewarded to benefit the community as a whole?
The true value of art and culture is its connection to the other assets of the commonwealth. We will continue to share about these assets in the future. We would love to hear how you have witnessed the art and culture around you in your community. How is it a part of the identity of your community? In what ways can it be stewarded to benefit the community?