Rich cultural heritage: right in our backyards

Now that the Montgomery Traditions website is finally up and running, I’m taking a little bit of time to reflect on the process as we prepare ourselves for adding even more content from more traditional arts groups from all around Montgomery County. And as I go over the stories I worked on with John Murph over the last few months, I can’t help but be impressed with the fact that so many artists have decided to make Montgomery County their home. I don’t feel that Washington D.C. gets recognized as the arts-rich city that it is, compared to New York or Chicago; Montgomery County even less so, being a suburb of Washington. But the fact is that all of these artists have decided to make Montgomery County their home. Shizumi Manale, for example, is an internationally-recognized performing artist, and after living in Japan and becoming an award-winning performing in San Francisco, she decided make permanent residency here in Montgomery County. Other artists such as Lesole Maine and Diana Saez came to Montgomery County to take advantage of the same opportunities that have drawn in a diverse international community for years. In either case, the county’s unique international appeal has led it to become a hotbed for cultural arts that I think in many ways in unparalleled. I honestly don’t think we get enough credit!
As someone who’s young and has grown up in this county for nearly all my life, I’ve faulted MoCo for being boring, drab, etc. But I think that the abundance of artists that choose to make this county the place where they live and work is an excellent litmus test of how culturally viable and important Montgomery County is. We have created a dynamic, multi-faceted community which artists from all over the world have recognized not only as an optimal environment for conducting their own projects, but as a place worth investing in culturally. We should follow their lead and be proud of our county and the art it facilitates and produces.