Lee's Summit Economic Development Council Embraces Cultural Arts to Attract Creative Workforce
On April 1, the arts were alive in Lee's Summit! The Lee's Summit Economic Development Council's (LSEDC) quarterly investor meeting highlighted the relationship between the cultural arts and economic development - bringing the two seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum together in the Kansas City area community of 90,000.
To showcase how the arts impact a community's ability to attract and retain businesses, and how vital it is to creating a "creative class," LSEDC brought arts and culture alive in Lee's Summit for an afternoon. More than 150 LSEDC investors and guests, along with representatives from the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City, attended the luncheon at the historic Longview Mansion (www.longviewmansion.com) to celebrate the arts. They experienced:
• Speed Sculpting by world-renowned sculpture artist Kwan Wu (www.kwanwusculpture.com)
• Nationally recognized speaker: Anthony Radich, Executive Director of the Western States Arts Federation (www.westaf.org), which is a nonprofit arts service organization based in Denver dedicated to the creative advancement and preservation of the arts. Radich spoke on the importance of building a creative economy around arts and culture.
• Special performances from Martin City Melodrama (www.martincitymelodrama.org) and the Lee's Summit Symphony, with art on display by Summit Art
Following the LSEDC lunch, guests were invited to a special dedication of Lee's Summit's first public-private art project - the Kids at Heart Sculpture. To celebrate the rich history and revitalization of Downtown Lee's Summit, Kurt Pycior, president of FPC Development and Construction and visionary downtown developer, solidified his vision in bronze. To mark the spot where Lee's Summit began - Hartley's Plaza - Pycior commissioned world-renowned sculptor Kwan Wu to create a bronze sculpture and fountain for the people of Lee's Summit to enjoy. The public art project was made possible by private donations and funding from the City of Lee's Summit.
So how does this relate to economic development? For the "creative class" and highly educated workers, a community's arts and cultural environment are pivotal plusses.
"Appreciation for and commitment to the arts need to be part of a community's marketing activities," says Jim Devine, President and CEO of LSEDC. "Often, downtown areas are especially appropriate for these activities and venues. In Lee's Summit, our efforts to attract the Martin City Melodrama is one example of how arts and economic development are kindred spirits. One supports the other."
As part of its business retention and expansion strategy, the Lee's Summit Economic Development Council plans to continue to foster positive relationships between the business and arts communities. Lee's Summit is in a unique position to become an innovator of arts and economic development in a community of its size in Missouri.