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2009 Conference

Mayor's Remarks on opening of ICSOM Conference
September 19, 2009

Paul D. Fraim, Mayor of Norfolk

Thank you, Bruce.

To the Governing Board of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM)…to ICSOM Chairman Bruce Ridge…members of the Virginia Symphony, and Music Director, JoAnn Falletta…to Michael Kaiser, Executive Director of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts…and to all members of the American Federation of Musicians gathered here today…Good morning. It’s good to be with you.

On behalf of the City, I’m pleased to bring greetings to all attending the annual International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, so let me thank you for inviting me to be with you this morning, and thank you for bringing your conference to Norfolk, a city that is often referred to as the Cultural Capitol of the Commonwealth.

As mayor of a city during an economically stressful period, I appreciate and support the arts and artists. I’m especially proud Norfolk is the home of the Virginia Symphony—the cornerstone of our musical arts industry.

I know we all agree with the enlightened statement made by John F. Kennedy when he wrote: “I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in the business or statecraft. I look forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens and I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well.”

The arts are a powerful economic engine. As we navigate very challenging times, the arts cannot be relegated to a lower priority. The arts have an established history of very high return on investment for their communities and should be supported as an important ally in our economic recovery.

Arts are important to state and local economies and they can be directly linked to economic benefits such as creating jobs, attracting investments, generating tax revenues, and stimulating local economies through tourism and consumer purchases. There is also an intellectual and spiritual capital that comes from having highly trained, highly educated artists as part of the fabric of any community.

I don’t know which comes first - a strong appreciation for the arts or an engaged civic life, but I do know you cannot have one without the other.

Again, quoting President Kennedy, “There is a connector hard to explain logically but easy to feel between achievement in public life and progress in the arts.”

Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity every year. With support and attention, these industries can bring sustainable economic growth and vitality — which is especially significant right now.

For those of you who grew up here or have visited Norfolk in the past, you’ve probably noticed how much our downtown has changed.

We are proud of what we’ve accomplished and hope you’ll take some time to experience a little of what we have to offer.

There are new office buildings, new hotels, new residential developments, the MacArthur Center mall…and there’s more on the way.

If you drove here or have had a chance to walk around a little bit, you may have noticed how many of our downtown streets are under construction.

The reason for that is we’re well into building Virginia’s first light rail system called The Tide. The line starts on the eastern edge of the city, runs right through the middle of downtown and on out to the medical center complex.

We expect it to be operational next year, and our hope is that it will be just the first leg of what needs to become a regional light rail transportation system.

You’ll find numerous restaurants along Granby Street, and there’s shopping at MacArthur Center, of course. The Chrysler Museum – one of the top 25 art museums in the country - is just a short distance from here and so is Nauticus, the National Maritime Center and the USS WISCONSIN.

If history and architecture interest you, plan on taking a walk on the Cannonball Trail, our downtown history path that will take you to the historic Freemason neighborhood and to many other historic sites and buildings.

Now, before I turn the podium back over to Bruce let me just say that we’re very happy to have you here. We wish you a successful conference, and we hope you have some time to stay and play in Norfolk.

I look forward to many more opportunities to greet you here in Norfolk, a place where life is celebrated daily.

Thank you.

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