TRUCKEE, Calif. - To help you decide to vote yes on Measure J, I would like to share some compelling statistics, and my own thoughts, on the benefits of both the aquatic and performing art centers.Did you know, based on a study of the 2004 Summer Olympics, swimming is the 2nd most popular spectator sport and did you know that according to a statistical abstract of the 2009 US Census, swimming is the 4th most popular participatory sport? Further, according to the US Center for Disease Control website, water-based exercise has proven positive impacts on chronic illness and mental health. The website notes the benefits for older adults, including bone health of post-menopausal women.And finally, given the high number of both recreational and professional athletes per capita at the local level, I'll mention a series of studies indicating that water exercise can mitigate the significant declines in cardiovascular fitness that occur in as few as three weeks of inactivity due to injury.I have decided that the availability of a year-round aquatic center with capacity to support recreational and therapeutic offerings has wide-reaching benefit even for those residing in Tahoe Donner, Martis Camp, Lahontan, and other places within the taxing district with their own swim centers. I also believe a community-owned aquatic center will ensure access to programs for low-income, underserved, under-insured, and uninsured individuals, including people with disabilities and senior citizens.A performing arts center in Truckee would broaden the local menu beyond the roster of outdoor adventure businesses and mitigate fluctuations in economic vibrancy in our much-loved shoulder seasons. Ashland, Oregon is a prime example of the power cultural tourism wields as an economic engine. Ashland, a Town of about 20,000 people, is the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. According to the Ashland Chamber website, the Festival recently achieved the highest number of tickets ever sold (415,000) and the highest occupancy (94%). The website also notes the existence of over 100 restaurants, and numerous galleries and quantifies the economic impact surrounding the Festival at approximately $129 million annually.Despite the beauty of our local landscape and adventure opportunities, Truckee is still exposed to competition from other tourist destinations, including close-by destinations such as Auburn and Nevada City where art & culture are thriving. Note that the Travel Industry Association of America indicates that 65% of all adult travelers included a cultural event while on a trip of more than 50 miles or more away from home in 2000 and that they spent more than other travelers ($623 versus $457). TIA research also indicates that across America, 35.3 million adults say that a specific arts or cultural event influenced their choice of destination. Accordingly, cultural tourism stands to harness significant economic reward in the categories of lodging, meals, and retail, but this also trickles down to service and product suppliers and right on down to self-representing artists participating in craft and festival-type events.Measure J opponents question the capability of the TDRPD to operate such a facility. Partnership opportunities abound and Truckee already has a very capable leader in Raine Howe, ED of the Arts for the Schools organization. Under Howe's leadership, AFTS brings "diverse, national and world acclaimed performing arts groups from many different cultures and genres" to Truckee. As a season ticket holder, I know these are well attended performances. There are also several state-wide member-based performing art associations to help guide Truckee forward. It is clear to me that with an appropriately-sized, technically advanced, professional venue programming will grow.Another opposition point relates to the prohibitive cost of tickets for those on a limited budget. Having visited Ashland and spoken with a number of locals, one thing that is clear is the need for numerous volunteers with many corresponding opportunities to enjoy performances. Locally, I have done this myself and substantially increased my exposure to art and culture.Lastly, as the founder and Executive Director of the Art-Health Alliance (formed to promote health and wellness through art and other forms of creative expression), I'd like to emphasize the important link between art and health. Arts foster beauty, creativity, originality, and vitality. While economics is important, I have cataloged numerous studies in support of art as a factor in both wellness and healing. These studies are available for viewing by request. Please support Measure J.Carla Beebe is co-owner of Tom Beebe, Artistry in Wood, and is the founder and executive director of the newly formed Art-Health Alliance.
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