Larry Meeker, chairman of the Creative Arts and Industry Commission of Kansas, praised the Filley Art Museum for their part in helping bring economic growth to Pratt.

The arts are a vital part of economic development in a community. That was the message Larry Meeker, chairman of the Creative Arts and Industry Commission of Kansas, shared when he and other members of the commission visited the Filley Art Museum on Aug. 29.

About 50 attended the gathering where they got to spend some one-on-one time with Meeker and the other members of the commission.

There are numerous places across Kansas such as the Filley Art Museum that have come into fruition because of the dedication of a few people to make a project come into existence.

“It’s (Vernon Filley Art Museum) a good example of how a community can pull together to get things done,” Meeker said. “It speaks to the culture of the community.”

Meeker said he was pleased how the quality of the Filley collection and the visiting artist displays have helped bring the image of arts to professional standards.

Arts projects, like the Filley, show a dedication to a community and that dedication can help draw millennials to the area, Meeker said.

More and more people are now working remotely. They work for businesses in bigger cities but choose to live in smaller communities. Those smaller communities have to have activities to attract millennials to come to their town and its facilities like the Filley Art Museum that draw them to the community, Meeker said.

Meeker also talked about Greensburg’s art museum, rebuilt when 95 percent of the town was destroyed by a tornado in 2007. Part of the rebirth of the town included the 5.4.7 Arts Center, which is another example of art being part of a small community.

Meeker is on the board for the M.T. Liggett art collection in Mullinville. The Liggett collection is another example of an arts project that draws people to a city and region. Sometimes it goes even beyond that. When Liggett died, Meeker said he got calls from the New York Times and the Washington Post about the Liggett collection so art, even in a small town, can have a far reaching impact.

Besides displaying the Filley art collection and the work of other artists, the Filley also offers art classes, mostly for children but also a few for adults, with classes held in the ACE building art room.

The Filley is also used for various meetings and gatherings. They have played host to the Miss Kansas Pageant contestants when they arrive in Pratt for the pageant.

The Creative Arts and Industry Commission of Kansas is a part of the Department of Commerce.