No matter how much technology changes and no matter how many ways people consume information, one constant is the important role that art can play in an individual’s life.

That is true for those who wish to express themselves through art and for those who prefer to experience it. We enjoy listening, seeing, watching and reading. We admire the creation and appreciate creativity.

It’s no wonder, then, that one of Jim Rouse’s four basic goals when he founded Columbia was to provide for the growth of people.

“The ultimate test of civilization is whether or not it contributes to the growth — the improvement of mankind. Does it uplift, inspire, stimulate and develop the best in man?” Rouse wrote. “The most successful community would be that which contributed the most by its physical form, its institutions and its operation to the growth of people.”

Columbia Association (CA) has long supported the arts and its role in making Columbia a special, vibrant place.

In no other community would you find one organization hosting free movies and concerts nearly every night of the week. That’s what CA does every summer with the Lakefront Summer Festival, which this year scheduled 23 movies and nearly 50 nights of music, plus weekly dance sessions under the People Tree and four open mic nights, where teens can perform; the annual Teen Idol singing competition gives them another chance to shine in front of their friends and families.

There are another nine afternoons of music each summer, during the Lakefront Wednesdays Lunchtime Concert Series.

CA founded the Columbia Art Center in 1974 and has run the operation since 1987, with programming for all ages and levels of ability, including classes, gallery exhibitions, workshops, camps and lectures. The center collaborates with other organizations and galleries in the area, encouraging even more individuals to appreciate art and express themselves through the arts.

CA has helped fund the Columbia Festival of the Arts since its inception nearly 30 years ago and also provides significant in-kind support during the festival’s annual free weekend. According to the staff at the festival, they have received more support from CA than from any other entity.

It’s our pleasure, and it also is part of our mission. CA works to enhance the quality of life of those living, working or playing in Columbia, and that includes partnerships with and support for those groups, organizations, programs and stakeholders who also work to make Columbia and Howard County a community of choice.

The arts are just one part of that, but they play an important role. Some would say the arts are highly valuable. I believe the positive impact they have on our community is priceless.

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