In 1991, a community visioning process identified four dominant themes to define the future of Scottsdale – Sonoran Desert; Resort Community; Arts & Culture; and Health & Research. In 2002, citizens approved a new General Plan for our city, reaffirming many of these same visions. More recently, a new group of eighteen Scottsdale citizens have spent countless hours drafting a new General Plan. Among all these efforts, I am struck by the continuity of their vision and aspirations.
The new draft General Plan boasts of an enhanced focus “…on tourism, fiscal sustainability, open space, community health, arts and culture and safety” as well as an enhanced focus on “…community character reflected in building heights, transitions/buffers and preservation of scenic views.”
On arts and culture, the new Plan speaks “…to the important role that arts, culture and the creative community will play in the city’s future…[building on our] competitive regional standing in arts and culture.”
On community character reflected in design, the new Plan emphasizes the importance of our city’s “…unique quality of design…” restated in a variety of ways: “…to provide for the future fiscal health of the city, all the while protecting the city’s unique southwestern character and quality of life” and to “foster quality design…as a unique southwestern desert and tourism community…”
There has always been a substantial interdependence among these visions. A vibrant arts and culture community, as well a community adhering to a unique quality of design, both serve as a draw to tourism which, in turn, contributes heavily to our City’s fiscal sustainability. It is not surprising Scottsdale citizens are reaffirming their commitment to the arts & culture or a unique quality of design; what is surprising is the scant attention that is paid to their vision!
Consider how we are disrespecting the citizen goal of quality of design. Envied cities around the world have a recognizable and appealing silhouette. For Scottsdale, we are blessed with a visual silhouette of majestic mountains and statuesque saguaro, both of which citizens aspire to complement with unique southwestern design. Contrast this vision against the new silhouette of non-descript boxes being constructed downtown.
Consider also how we are ignoring the citizen goal to build on our competitive regional standing in arts and culture. Of all the tax dollars spent in the City’s General Fund, less than two percent is earmarked for arts and culture programming. Bed taxes are to be used to encourage tourism, yet none of this tax revenue stream is spent to enhance the arts experience of tourists who might patronize the downtown arts district.
This past Friday evening, a group of like-minded citizens joined with me to celebrate our support for Arts and Culture in Scottsdale. The setting was the Bonner David Galleries, on Main Street, in the heart of Scottsdale’s art district. The event was a joyous remembrance how important Arts and Culture, as well as distinctive architecture, have been to the identity of Scottsdale from the days of our beginning; but it was also a somber occasion, reflecting on how threatened our unique identity is today.
I am proud to be identified as a supporter of Arts and Culture and an advocate of unique, southwestern architectural design. I am prouder still that this puts me in the company with the majority of my fellow citizens. I would be honored to receive citizen recognition and support in the election on November 4.