One State Together Arts Conference

June  24, 2013

Using the arts to help build stronger communities. That's the focus of two groups meeting now in the Quad Cities. Yesterday, Arts Alliance Illinois and the Illinois Arts Council opened a joint conference entitled "The State Together in the Arts."  It's being held at the iWireless Center in Moline.

Arts Alliance Executive Director, Ra Joy, says they will use storytelling to focus on how art and community interact."While it's no secret that the arts are good for our soul, and good for quality of life, and serve to unite us and inspire us, it's also important to remember that the arts are critically important to vibrant communities and a healthy overall economy," he says.

Chicago artist Theaster Gates gave the keynote address this morning. He says stories are important for rebuilding communities because they are more "compelling" than official calls to action. "When you hear it in the form of a narrative instead of a new policy, it makes you feel like you might be able to do it too. I think for this group especially, at a moment when there are financial cuts to culture, and there are a lot of questions about the future of education, seeing some examples of where individuals make a difference feels really important," he says.

In the address, Gates described how he converted an abandoned public housing project in Chicago into a library, slide archive, and soul food kitchen. The One State Together Conference will also feature nine other speakers and the work of several local artists. It will close tomorrow afternoon with a performance by "The Dance Team," from Chicago.