The Portland area's creative scene is richly represented by just about every art form - be it visual, musical or theatrical.

But the ability to keep this thriving arts community financially afloat has proven elusive. As noted in the latest issue of Rethinking Portland inside today's Lake Oswego Review, stable funding for the arts is the preeminent concern for most people involved in creating, displaying, performing or teaching art.

Of course, monetary problems are nothing new in the art world, and they certainly are not unique to the metro area. The phrase 'starving artist' wasn't invented here. But we believe that support for local arts can be increased, and that the power to do so rests with those who are involved in the arts. And we say that while acknowledging that Lake Oswego is by far one of the most art-oriented communities in the region.

Becoming a region known for great art is not an elitist goal. It is an important objective for an area that must compete economically and socially with other metropolitan areas.

Art contributes directly to the economy through the people it employs in museums, galleries and theaters, and through the substantial effect it has on other businesses such as restaurants. In Lake Oswego, just look at the impact the annual Festival of the Arts has on the local economy. The outdoor art program offered by the city is another prime example of how the arts can positively impact our community. So is the Lakewood Center for the Arts. And don't forget the summer-long community concert series offered through the Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department.

Art is alive and well in all these places, along with dozens of local high schools, community colleges and universities and, of course, the big-ticket locales in Portland. Such broad, community-level involvement in the arts - both in Lake Oswego and the region - help demonstrate that the interest and energy to make the metro area a distinctive arts community is far reaching and already in place.

This is a region that should strive for even more cultural abundance and artistic greatness. And it will take all of us working - and contributing - together to make that happen.

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