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A Call to Arts: Occupy Main Street!
Nov 3, 2011
Every Main Street in South Dakota is ripe for Arts Occupation. Some communities have already experienced it, but most have not. Go Arts! Take over those vacated storefronts, whatever that means. If it is already happening, celebrate and do more. Take to the streets, and lift everyone up!
Unlike Wall Street occupiers, you don’t have to put up tents and try to survive the winter — you live here, this place is yours. You have everything you need to take back your town. Do it now, this holiday season, and your family will rejoice. South Dakotans are by nature and necessity imaginative, innovative, and eventually cooperative. Keep going that way and we will live well.
Festoon those storefronts with our culture. Make a storefront into an art gallery for local artists. Make galleries and performance spaces out of empty retail spaces. Every county has a museum — curate an exhibit for a window or two, and invite everyone to come to your museum to see more. Bring on the quilters and the textile artists. Bring on the craftsmen and women. Bring on the singers, the musical ensembles, the organists, and give them a place to play for you. Bring on the actors and the playwrights in your community. Main Street is full of venues — use them for the arts. It probably won’t be free. Invest something, but welcome everyone’s participation or you will miss some very interesting people. Ask your state arts agency or your local arts council for help.
While you are waiting for that help, do what you can this holiday season. Celebrate and decorate like never before — sing and dance, use those empty spaces to celebrate and bring life to the heart of your town. Take to the streets, and shine them up with life. Find a way to occupy the dusty windows with the arts. A peaceful occupation is in the works. Occupy Main Street, South Dakota! Please.
Pat Boyd is Executive Director of South Dakotans for the Arts, a statewide nonprofit membership organization dedicated to advancing the arts through service, education and advocacy. Pat and her husband, artist George Prisbe, live at Hanna Creek in the northern Black Hills.