It’s hard to believe that we are almost to the end of April. It seems that Spring has finally arrived! As I thought about what I wanted to write about for this article, the obvious answer was “Spring Fest.” But as I thought more and more, I wanted to share about all the ways that this began and has again come together.
We all want a healthy community and a healthy downtown. But what does that look like and why is it important? The links between the economic health of a community and the quality of its social bonds are becoming increasingly clear. Researchers across the globe are finding (and accepting more and more) that strong social connections are necessary ingredients of economic success. It isn’t always the tangible things that we think of, but is the capacity of people to act together on things that they are commonly interested in that makes a greater difference in the health and well-being of individuals and their neighborhoods. It is shown over and over again that what makes a community successful – in quality of life and economics – are opportunities for people to come together in creation and celebration of culture and common interest. People develop the value and worth of their social networks by cooperating, sharing, and seeking and finding shared goals, and by developing ties on a cultural level – by really working together for the common good. These connections serve these communities well in their other endeavors—from economic development to civic participation to healthy living.
At the Arts Council we love opportunities for people to come together – it’s who we are and what we strive for everyday. We know that public spaces and marketplaces are essential ingredients in every community. Public space provides opportunities for people to meet and be exposed to a variety of neighbors. These meetings often take place by chance, but they also can come through active organizing. The art of promoting constructive interaction among people in public spaces has been nearly forgotten in many communities – but not in Laurinburg. I’ve heard many people say, “How do we get people to come downtown?” and my answer has always been, “Give them something to come downtown for.” At the Arts Center we have been working and planning to bring the Spring Arts Festival back to downtown in 2018 since before we did our first event in 2017! Soon after we were approached by other excited groups and now couldn’t be more thrilled to grow this event in 2018 and to work with so many others in our community who wanted to make it bigger and better – and who were willing to put in the effort to do so! We had our space and our marketplace! After our inaugural event last year, Spring Art Fest joined forces with the Laurinburg Scotland Area Chamber of Commerce, the Scotland Memorial Foundation, Parks and Recreation and continued our great partnership with the city of Laurinburg. Our joint goal was to expand this event in an attempt to grow it, gain more support for the reawakening of downtown and to reach each other’s audiences in a way that could benefit each organization and our community. We really wanted to show what can happen when people come together in positive and uplifting efforts. As important as the space it happens in, piece of art that is being shown, or event that is promoted, is the process by which it is all created. So many people have come, worked, created and marched
together over the past year to make this happen. I think it would be hard to find anyone in our community that doesn’t want good things to happen here and that doesn’t want positive changes to take place in our city and in our downtown – both economically and socially. It is up to the community to come out and support these organizations and support the place that you call home, all while having a great time in our beautiful and historic downtown. Events like this are a win for everyone in Laurinburg and in Scotland County and we can’t wait to share it with you.
So join us for Spring Fest 2018. Get downtown on Friday for the Laurinburg After 5 kickoff and stay for Parks and Recreation’s Movie in the Park – featuring “A Dog’s Purpose”. Then come back on Saturday for the FUNd Run followed by a great day of music (5 bands!), the Art Garden reveal and tour, art and craft vendors, local community organizations, a beverage garden, local art, community art projects, chalk art competition, the Bold-Faced Liars’ Showdown and your favorite downtown merchants. There’s still time to register to run or to share your favorite tall tale at the Showdown. Call the Foundation or the Arts Center for information.
We’ve worked hard and we’ve worked together to create events that encourage people to come downtown and interact socially and in turn, economically. What attracts people to a space is other people and we hope that you will support the efforts of so many and come down and see for yourself why Laurinburg is, and will continue to be, such a great place to live, work and play.
Erin Rembert, executive director of the Arts Council of Scotland County, wrote this week’s Focus on Scotland, an effort by community leaders on making Laurinburg/Scotland County a better place to work, live, and play.