Artists perfect compliment to tourism

Published 11:49 pm Saturday, October 13, 2007

The raw materials are relatively cheap — paint, clay, ink, wood and stone. But add the human touch and those raw materials are shaped into one-of-a-kind art.

The values increase hundreds of times over. And in almost every case, the process is amazingly clean — no pollution, no ill effects.

So why doesn’t our community make a more concerted effort to attract artists to locate here?

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We suspect it’s simply because few of us have ever thought about it before. Artists rarely are thought of as an industry.

But that’s our mistake.

Even if they don’t really have lobbying groups pushing their agendas and even if they don’t attract the attention of economic developers like other industries might, we need to realize their value.

It’s a no-brainer when you think about it. But, for too many years, none of us gave it much thought.

That needs to change.

For the Natchez area, attracting more artists is a perfect compliment to our tourist economy.

Visitors like to come to Natchez already. Having more things for those visitors to see and buy just makes the desire to visit — and come back again — all the more powerful.

Our area leaders would be wise to begin spending some time and money thinking about how to market ourselves to artists. With a little ingenuity, we could make some amazing things happen.

Imagine what would happen if we converted the unused portions of the former Margaret Martin School into an artist studio incubator of sorts. Imagine the attraction that could become for both artists and art lovers alike.

Natchez has the raw materials to become a great art destination. We just need to put our hands and our imagination into action.