Thursday, August 16, 2007

Art of Guerrilla Tactics

The conversation at the Friday Morning Group last Friday ranged from "radical transparency" to guerrilla tactics and everything in between. No matter the topics, the conversation was brightened by the all too rare appearance of Carol Dameron.

The underlying topic that had us touch on these diverse subjects was the position of arts and culture in these tough financial times. We all have been feeling the effects of the property tax reform movement in Florida and its impact on local government funding for the arts. Now as signs continue to show the overall economy slipping, the art funding situation appears to be even more tenuous.

We discussed how people and institutions make values choices when allocating resources. The question we are continuously trying to answer is how to demonstrate the total value of arts and culture on the community. Where do arts and culture fit into this mix? What do we value and why do we value it? What impact does this have on our quality of life. And what does it say about us as a community?

We also touched on who our natural allies should be in this effort to upgrade the place of arts and culture on the values choices ladder. We even talked about good old Mazlow and his "hierarchy of needs". We talked about the creation of "Business Improvement Districts" and how incremental taxes within those districts can be used to provide additional city employees to aid visitors and residents within those districts. This has been used to great effect in Washington DC. There are a number of economies with this approach, because these "Business Improvement District" city employees are not police officers and therefore do not carry the high cost overhead of additional police.

We talked about the role of cities, that they exist to create human interactions. These interactions create possibilities which all serve to enhance the quality of life in our communities. But how to raise the visibility of the value of arts and culture within the clutter of everything else that is going on?

That is where the guerrilla tactics come in. Imagine a series of more or less spontaneous little artistic "interventions" going on all over town at unexpected times and places. Don't know what these interventions might look like? Me neither. But you all are creative. Think about it. How much fun could you have with it? How much would it add to the quality of life in the community? How much might it add to the value of arts and culture in the community?

Anybody feeling guerillaish today? How about joining us tomorrow at the Friday Morning Group and sharing your ideas? I look forward to seeing you.

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