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Good morning, and thank you Mayor Schieve. It’s a great privilege and a treat to be here with my fellow mayors, and especially to be honored in this way. I know about many ways that you are nurturing the life of the arts in your respective communities, so I am particularly honored with this award for local arts leadership. I want to extend my deep thanks to the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Americans for the Arts, to Bloomington’s Assistant Director for the Arts Sean Starowitz for the nomination and for his stewardship of our city’s artistic life, and to my recommenders/sponsors/supporters Sally Gaskill, Bloomington Arts Commission Chair, and Ed Comentale, Indiana University’s Associate Vice Provost of Arts and Humanities.

All of us in this room know the role that creativity plays in problem-solving, and we know how crucial a community’s artistic and cultural life is to its overall vitality and sustenance.  I am fortunate to be the mayor of a city where there is broad consensus about these ideas. As the birthplace of “Stardust,” one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century, the films Breaking Away and Hoosiers, and the home of the IU Jacobs School of Music, one of the world’s premiere conservatories of music, Joshua Bell, Leonard Slatkin, Sylvia McNair, Andre Watts, Eileen Farrell, David Baker. Or maybe John Mellencamp, David Lee Roth, or another form of human creativity was intensively studied in Bloomington, at the Kinsey Institute.  

Bloomington has the arts in our DNA. When asked to indicate what they liked most about living in the City, most residents in our 2017 City survey cited the numerous cultural activities and entertainment offered, with 94 percent of residents rating the opportunity to attend cultural, arts and music activities as excellent or good.

And informatics and basic sciences are enormous at IU. So we’re real big on the idea of STEAM.

So you see, I don’t get as much argument as another mayor of another city might when it comes to allocating resources for the arts!  At the same time, though, our arts economy is so robust, there is more competition for our public art dollars than there might be in a less culturally dynamic place.  So my job has been to increase the channels of funding for the arts, to create partnerships with Bloomington’s many arts organizations that multiply the impact of those organizations, and to use the cultural landscape as a place to work toward equity and inclusion.

In the last year alone, we have announced the first two six-figure public art commissions, we have negotiated with the developer of a large hotel in our downtown to establish an art fund with $300,000, and we have doubled the grants that the Bloomington Arts Commission makes to community arts organizations.  In 2018, through its support of 17 arts and culture groups, the BAC was able to support more than 632 individual artists -- so we are excited to see how much more creativity the doubled budget will foster.

From the musical programming in our parks, to the public art projects, to annual festivals celebrating world music and all things Vonnegut, Bloomington is a lively and stimulating destination thanks to the life of the arts, and I encourage you to come visit!  Many thanks for this award.

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