There’s been considerable speculation about who will throw a hat in the ring to become Tucson’s next mayor. What’s been missing to date is any speculation about what the key issues will be…or what they ought to be.
Tucson Symphony Conductor George Hanson (in a Star guest editorial) has suggested a topic:
“The vision: a performing arts, education and technology center, celebrating our Native American, Hispanic and European heritages — the centerpiece that is missing from the Rio Nuevo table. An 1,800 seat concert hall, easily converted into a ball- or showroom; a renovated Tucson Music Hall, perfect for opera and Broadway shows; a shared plaza with restaurants, coffee shops, a taqueria and open gallery space; a jazz club nearby; education and technology facilities to bring the enormous benefits of the performing arts to young people, and to those who can't afford it.
“What's wrong with this vision? No one else sees it.
“Perhaps it's tunnel vision: bridge, arena, science center. But none of those projects can compete with the economic impact, dollar for dollar, of the performing arts.”
I think this is worth making a key issue of the election. It bears not just on the economic viability of Rio Nuevo and downtown re-development, but on what kind of city Tucson wants to become.
Do we want to be simply a great place for conventions (the Walkup vision, apparently) or do we want to grow as a great cultural center--- the Athens, if you will, of the Southwest. Do we want businesses to come here because the land and labor are cheap, or do we want businesses to move here because the cultural dynamic attracts the leadership of those businesses?
However it plays out this idea should be a major issue in the coming election.