Home The Soapbox Jim Collar column: arts crucial to our quality of life

Jim Collar column: arts crucial to our quality of life


The arts are often viewed as an extra; a perk or a pastime. 

We separate them from what we view as the important affairs of our daily lives. They’re waiting as a reward when the work is done and the bills are paid. 

But when viewed through a different facet, we know otherwise.

Humans are built to create and to experience. And if we set aside our reasoning, we intrinsically recognize the arts are integral to our very health and well being — as individuals and as communities.

Earlier this week, Valley Review published its first in-depth feature. We highlighted veteran and musician Jason Moon and his life’s work of using music to restore those who returned from service with burdens they didn’t carry into enlistment. 

It speaks to an important role we hope this website will help fill in the Fox Cities. 

We aim to regularly highlight how our artists and their work serve as a crucial component of our incredible quality of life. The arts are very much part of our important affairs.

Jason Moon’s work has provided many with a grounds for healing. For the rest of us, he’s created a vehicle for understanding, support and compassion.

RELATED STORY: Warrior Songs provides healing to veterans through music, arts 

The arts frequently come through as both a reference point and an opportunity for betterment.

Earlier this summer, we highlighted Art Jam, a program of Pillars Inc., which used painting to simultaneously spread awareness of homelessness and housing issues and brighten the lives of those experiencing those stresses and uncertainties. 

A generally accepted viewpoint on the arts  — often spoken as a synonym for or in connection with entertainment — doesn’t garner much exploration.

Maybe it should. 

When government budgets tighten, for example, it’s all too simple for our representatives to pare off arts spending — however meager — with unquestioned explanations that our dollars need to reach priorities.

So what then are our priorities?

When we think of community strength, conversations quickly turn to income, infrastructure, planning, zoning, education and the almighty tax dollar. Indeed, those factor into the recipe. 

But let’s not forget the pursuit of happiness.  

Let’s never discount the contributions of our artists. And maybe it starts with the words we use and the perspectives we choose.

We’ve all talked about getting lost in a book. Perhaps it’s more a matter of finding.

I recently found myself parsing over a line from Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.” 

“He knows that it’s me they’ve been coming to see to forget about life for awhile … ”

I’d like to think that when the connection between artist and audience takes place and thoughts and worries fall off leaving only the beauty of the moment — we aren’t forgetting about life.

It’s at that point we’re emerging into it.