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Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 12:40pm

Arts Council Gets Columbus Input

The Columbus area will be the latest to offer input on a strategic plan for the Georgia Council for the Arts Wednesday morning.

The arts council is traveling the state through February asking residents and arts organizations to help it create a long-range vision.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said she wants the council to coordinate resources and foster collaborations, but mostly she is interested in spreading the message that arts have an economic return.

“People like to live, people like to bring businesses and jobs to areas where there is a vibrant culture, and the arts certainly enhance that aspect,” Tomlinson said. “Quality of life is the second-most important factor to people when they’re relocating [and] looking at where they want to start their family and build their life. [It’s] second only to salary.”

In terms of priorities for the arts in Columbus, Tomlinson said she would like to create a signature festival in the area that celebrates the city’s culture and diversity.

She also said she wants to use performing arts and fine arts to help keep children out of trouble.

“If we can get these kids engaged in creative and productive avenues in life, they remain creative, productive citizens,” Tomlinson said. “That’s why investment in the arts returns multiple-fold to our communities.”

The arts council’s forums across the state were prompted by its new home in the Department of Economic Development and a much-reduced state budget.

The council has lost 90 percent of its state budget over the last decade and now gets about $500,000 a year.

Forums are also planned in Augusta, Macon and Savannah.