Have any of you been to a meeting with the Southside Business Mens Group, The Chamber of Commerce, Women Business Owners or the Young Republicans? I have and there is more at play than First Baptist Church. True, in the past, 70’s to 2000 FBC controlled the City Council, the School board, and the local news and they were all against bars, “nightlife” and the arts but they did loose some control when the Jaguars NFL team came to town.
Jacksonville’s problem is the same as any small rural town in America, young people with talent have to leave to find work.
Jacksonville’s population consist of large groups of people who have zero vested interest in improving the culture or nightlife of Jacksonville. Let me explain.
First are the “transients” in the Military and here for a few years. These people do not invest in property, attend PTA/school board meetings or bother with local politics because they know they will soon move. One good thing is that I have always been able to buy a washer and dryer for about 150 bucks when they leave. They don’t buy expensive furniture or invest in art because they don’t want to take it with them. If they came from a city with more culture they can’t wait to get back to it. If they came from a smaller town they think it’s too big and does not offer much more than their small town and they move home or out to the suburbs.
“Country locals”, the people born and raised here that have never traveled outside of Florida, I call them the “Don’t know that they don’t know and don’t care”,”Dukes of Hazard”, “Go Gators” types. These people cook great barb-q and are fun to tailgate with but have no knowledge or interest in the arts past music that is played on the radio. They love college football even though many never attended college. They are slow to adapt to technology and could care less about fashion.
“Church people”, not just FBC are not bad people. For the most part they are trying to raise their children with morals and values. Unfortunately, they do not value the arts beyond Christian Praise performance, church theater and family friendly content. These people have no interest in “night life” beyond a good restaurant and football celebration. Drinking in bars is discouraged. They are “Focused on the Family” and do what their church leaders tell them is the right thing. I believe this group has been completely misled by our politicians by claiming to be Christian and Pro Life. Having read the Bible, I do not understand how the teachings of Jesus and corporate greed, abuse of our natural and human resources became aligned. However, this group has bought the Republican Party line hook line and sinker, mostly sinker. They listen to Rush Limbaugh and the like.
“Country Club” people have some money that they spend on their large house, big cars/trucks, food, clothes, and sports. They may attend church but more for networking and have no issue with drinking when it comes to sports or sports bars. They are more adept to technology but follow the mainstream media’s or consumers reports guides to buying. They do purchase expensive homes and furnishings but tend to take art advise from showroom designers on what will match the couch.
Imagination Squared showed us again that we are overflowing with artistic talent. We have even more musical talent. How do we get our local population to support the arts?
How do we reach the “transients” the “country locals” the “church people” the “country clubers”? Teaching art in k-12 school would be a start. Having more cultural events like Art Walk, RAM, and our art museums. Maybe we need to go to their churches and do a presentation on local arts. Maybe we need to get the Jaguars to support the arts and mention our events during the game. Maybe we need to contact the bases and have our events added to their welcome packages. Maybe we have to come together and support the artist we know that are having shows. Maybe we need to create art exchange relationships with larger cities.