There are two things about growth that have held true in my life – it is difficult to grow without roots, and growth only comes from change. As most of you know, the ZACC's long-time Executive Director Kia Liszak recently stepped down. Under her leadership, the ZACC became Missoula's dynamic arts center, supporting local and regional artists, performers, musicians, and creative spirits of all ages. She grew the ZACC from its humble beginnings on the Northside to our beautiful location in the heart of downtown Missoula. Through Kia's efforts, the ZACC has the roots to grow and, with the change that comes from her departure, it will develop into a stronger organization through the catalytic growth that comes with such a change.
February is Black History Month, which is a good reminder of art's influence in the field of social justice. The pioneering social reformer Frederick Douglass was a great proponent of the power of aesthetic force to transform lives, and argued that "whatever is melodic, lyric, or poetic can be catalytic in a way that few other things can." In fact, it is the emotive power of aesthetic force that has galvanized movements. An abolitionist's print of a British slave ship in 1789 gave Parliament enough evidentiary proof of slavery's inhumanity to finally end the slave trade. The Earthrise photograph, taken in 1968 as Apollo 8 circumnavigated the Moon, has been described as the most influential environmental photograph ever taken, spurring the environmental movement. The 1980 movie 9 to 5 was based on real stories from the national association 9to5, an organization of women office workers, and was created by Jane Fonda to bring attention to the issues women faced in the workplace. In the words of Dolly Parton, who starred in the movie, "It struck a nerve."
From housing shortages and poverty to climate change and healthcare, our communities are facing monumental challenges that require creative ideas, solutions, and the striking of nerves. Any of these challenges could use a critical thinker, an artist's mind, or a creative thought to help us find our way to a better future. Creative forces allow us to connect to our common humanity and strengthen our community's character; they move people to action, to laughter, to tears and ultimately, to change. So as the ZACC ushers in a new era we ask you to support our efforts as we nurture the creative minds that could change the world. Please consider becoming a sponsor of the Mini Show, taking a class, or attending First Friday on February 3, which will feature Montana artists on textiles created by Western Sensibility. Above all, be generous and courageous with your own creative force.