I recently heard a lecture on Book TV by the author of a new book about the history of Greenwich Village, New York. The author pointed out that in spite of its history as a center for the arts and culture, Greenwich Village no longer is a haven for struggling artists, because skyrocketing rents have priced them out. They moved to adjacent areas-East village and Chelsea - but now these neighborhoods are too expensive, and even Brooklyn, where they fled next, is very expensive. And now rents in Jersey City are mounting. The author said that the same is true of other cities with artist colonies like Chicago and San Francisco.
It occurred to me to wonder why Marietta could not become an artist's haven. After all, there are other small towns with artistic reputations. Why not Marietta? It is a picturesque town with a lot of history, beautiful countryside around it, which is easy to get to, and a college of some reputation. And housing is certainly cheap. And it is not far from major metropolitan areas: Columbus, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. So what does Marietta lack that other artist colonies don't?
In fact it has one asset that none of you is going to think of until I mention it-the old Remington Rand plant. This must be a structurally sound building, or it would have been torn down by now. Imagine it or a wing of it remodeled into art and sculpture studios. I can even imagine the handsome but sadly neglected administration building brought to new life as a gallery, museum, and arts center. One may argue that there isn't much cultural life here to attract artists, but there is some, and the presence of an artistic community would attract more.
Everything begins with imagination, and I offer my act of imagination as the germ of a new direction for the city I love.