At the City Council meeting on March 6, Deputy Mayor Debbie Bertlin justified her vote to add “Arts” to the name of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department by stating that doing so would reverse the city’s “unconscious bias” against the arts.
However, judging by the number of arts offerings by the city at the Mercer Island Community and Events Center, at least 21 according to a recent count by an Island resident, and the number of public arts activities the city sponsors — think Art UnCorked and Music in the Park, for example — the arts are thriving on the Island.
In fact, I suggest that the way to increase arts activity on the Island, if that is truly Bertlin’s goal, is for her to work together with her colleagues on the council to do so. To use her example, lack of an art studio at the events center, she could suggest solutions, such as designating one of the meeting rooms at the events center as a public art studio at certain times of the week — sharing the space as the events center’s gym space is shared.
It’s “magical thinking” to believe that changing a department name will create an art studio. Words do not equal action. I suggest that precious time, energy and money be spent on taking action rather than on changing words.