Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Improving Rural Quality of Life

When I have the opportunity to speak about rural economic revitalization, I always bring up the topic of quality of life. Generally, I think most assume that quality of life in a big city is better than that in small towns. This is often a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the very things that create and enhance quality of life are often overlooked and under-appreciated. I've periodically used the "Green Acres" version of American Gothic as one of my slides - Oliver understood the quality of life that is available in rural and small town America. I thought it might be helpful to write periodically about specific activities that small towns can undertake to address quality of life.

A number of small towns, including McCrory, Arkansas, have found value in community theatre. Renovating a suitable structure, creating a theatre group, and staging productions is a tremendous way to generate community interest and involvement, bringing folks together from all walks of life. Such activities are often overlooked in small communities, but the reality is that theatre can create and foster an important component of quality of life - civic pride. In addition, by their inclusive nature, theater productions can draw from a broad cross section of the community: children and adults, actors and carpenters, electricians and marketing types, etc. New relationships are forged, opportunities for entertainment and education are provided locally, and a good time can be had by all.

Most, if not all communities have suitable space for theatre productions, and the talent necessary to pull it off. Find ways to encourage this activity, creating one more positive activity in your community. Talk to other communities, your high school drama teachers, and others who may be simply fans of the theatre.

Many in my audience are bankers . . . perhaps I've given you some thought about the need to support community theatre if you are not already doing so. As always, I welcome your questions, comments, or thrown vegetables.