Council Supports Federal Grant for
‘New Understanding of the Scope of Arts’
Debt used to be a bad thing, and government debt came with horrors of becoming slaves to creditor nations. People don’t think that way anymore. They spend with the expectation that the millionaires of the world will always bail them out. All we need do is soak all of them for four times their net worth. It all makes sense when you learn Common Core math and are able to feel the positive energy in what old-fashioned teachers used to treat with big, fat, red X’s.
And so it was that Asheville City Council added a tiny bit more to the sum, as do thousands of communities nationwide, every month. It is not unusual for council at most meetings to accept grants from the federal government, either directly or passed through the state, for things like bullet-proof vests, the hiring of more police officers or firefighters, or Homeland Security wizmo-gizmos – like robots to search fire-engulfed buildings, or GC machines that can identify even the brand of coffee cream at a crime scene. An all-time classic is the regional Homeland Security bus that can transport multiple patients if one doesn’t mind the excessive response time.
But Tuesday, council approved accepting a modicum, $75,000, from the federal government for something a little different. It should be noted that matching funds will be solicited from the City of Asheville ($25,000), Buncombe County ($25,000), and the Economic Development Coalition and the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.
What would it buy? Why, a cultural asset inventory. The staff report provided with the agenda explains, “It is a cross-sector collaborative assessment of Buncombe County’s cultural resources including but not limited to creative industry jobs and businesses, cultural amenities, public art, market opportunities, and arts and culture related resources such as nonprofit and educational programs and services, equipment, space, capital, and supply.”
In case that didn’t sell the product, seven bullet points were provided. In short, they described the grant as satisfying the need for “information about the scale and nature of economic activity related to cultural and creative industry based businesses,” “feasibility for arts based development and related uses, such as artist workforce housing and studios,” “a database of arts and culture partners,” “identifying need and resources for the creation and support of new and existing strategy in order to support long range cultural planning,” “supporting the implementation of existing plans,” “enhancing existing GIS based tools,” and most importantly, “increasing the area’s eligibility for additional Creative Place making funding.”
The “Our Town” grant would come from the National Endowment for the Arts, provided the applicants can sell the project as “building knowledge about Creative Placemaking” and supplying “arts engagement.” Numerous weasel words joined in innovative syntax followed in the report to create a feeling of positive community energy. Councilman Gordon Smith wished to pull the item from the consent agenda to call attention to the endeavor, calling it a “collaborative process to move forward arts and culture in the community.” He praised it for “capacity building,” which is Synergeze for “transferring power from the people to government.”
In Other Matters –
Also by way of the consent agenda, council authorized Mayor Esther Manheimer to sign a letter “to support action to help stop global warming.” A copy of the letter was not provided to the public. Instead, they were presented with a fact sheet from Environment America’s Global Warming Solutions Campaign. It stated that failure to curb carbon fuel use would only result in more and more disastrous drought, wildfires, megastorms, and receding land mass. Global warming, it insinuates, creates a more favorable habitat for pestilences. North Carolina is particularly called out for “rising sea levels that make damage from storm surges worse.”
The fact sheet continues, “Nationally, the fifty dirtiest power plants emit more carbon each year than all but six other countries.” And so, “on June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed to cut carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent by 2030.” What’s more, “a recent Yale poll found that 64 percent of Americans support strict carbon limits on power plants.”
During the public comment portion of the meeting, a number of citizens presented council with concerns that outdoor speakers were not only obnoxious, but, due to a legal technicality, the pros and cons of allowing them to blare in residential areas until 2:00 a.m. would fall through the cracks when the city’s noise ordinance would be reviewed. Members of council were quite sympathetic and spoke as if the problem would be addressed through the appropriate channels.
Jonathan Robert, who has been ragging on Asheville Police Chief William Anderson appeared before council once again. This was three days before the city announced the chief’s retirement. This time, Robert went after Councilman Cecil Bothwell. He asked council to formally censure Bothwell for disrespecting his office. Not only did he call police officers “liars” and “racist,” he sent a letter to the Police Benevolent Association stating, in part, “You should [unprintable word for urinate] up a rope.” Robert said statements like that shame him as a citizen.