It’s the Arts Stupid
And if you can successfully draw in young folks in their 20s and 30s, you’ll do even better.
Do yourself a favor and spend a weekend night in West Chester or Phoenixville. Go to dinner. Have a drink. See a band. Enjoy some art. You’ll be amazed at the amount of activity taking place in their downtowns. Folks of all ages. Young singles, young families, older empty nesters. They’re spending money, enjoying themselves, and having a fun night out.
While Pottstown is certainly moving in that direction, as far as we’re concerned it can’t happen fast enough. Proof being last month’s Jazz Nite held at ArtFusion 19464. A packed standing room only crowd filled the gallery. It was a wonderful sight to see, hear, and experience in downtown Pottstown. Something we wished we saw more of on a weekly basis.
An excellent example of the economic powerhouse of the arts is a recent report issued by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. The report, “The Arts, Culture and Economic Prosperity in Greater Philadelphia,” can be accessed here. In the report, it states that cultural activity generates nearly $170 million in state and local taxes annually and supports 44,000 jobs within Philadelphia and its four suburban Pennsylvania counties. Arts and cultural organizations have a multibillion-dollar impact on the Philadelphia region’s economy, and are among the nation’s most productive in creation of jobs and stirring up economic activity. Only those in the Washington area generate more per-capita expenditures, and in terms of jobs, no region comes close to Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Now that’s cool.
How do you lure folks out? Alcohol is definitely a good start.
One of our favorite success stories in Pottstown was last year’s opening of the Sly Fox Brewing Company’s Brewery and Tastin’ Room, located in the Circle of Progress near the Pottstown Airport. It’s a 30,000 square feet $6 million project that has brought 20 full-time jobs to the borough. Sly Fox also had an excellent promotional video produced by their advertising agency, Virtual Farm Creative of Phoenixville, called “Welcome to Cantown”.
If you haven’t already seen the video, check it out (and if you’ve seen it before, it’s worth watching several times):
While it’s too bad Sly Fox didn’t relocate to High Street, we’re still happy to have them in town.
Even with a hip place like Sly Fox now in town, the fact remains that Pottstown needs venues for live music. Live music will bring folks into town. Jazz Nite was Exhibit A for that.
We have live theatre courtesy of Steel River Playhouse, but where do you go when the show is over? Unfortunately, most folks right now get in their cars and head for the boro line. Some may enjoy a pre or post show dinner at The Brick House, Henry’s Café, Funky Lil Kitchen, or Juan Carlos. But we need more places and things to do downtown to keep folks in Pottstown.
Many towns have built a vibrant art and music scene through a dedicated grass roots effort. Enough folks got sick of the same old BS and took action. It doesn’t happen overnight…but it doesn’t happen if folks don’t get involved and start being the change they want to see.
Don’t expect any help from the borough, they can’t even manage something simple like issuing blatantly obvious code violations (especially now with a 33 year uninspiring zombiesque public servant steering the Good Ship Ho Hum).
Forget the chronically disappointing elected officials meandering within borough hall. To get the change we need in Pottstown…it has to come from a burning desire within. A burning desire for something new and different. Something outside of the mindset of those career governmentalists of 100 East High Street.
Put on your creative thinking caps folks! This is Pottstown…this is Cantown!
“Hold tight, you’ve got the music in you,
Don’t let go, you’ve got the music in you,
One dance left, this world is gonna pull through,
Don’t give up, you’ve got a reason to live,
Can’t forget you only get what you give”