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Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite
Silent Rise: A City, the Arts, and a Blue-Collar Kid by Rick H. Jones documents the transformative power of the arts in reshaping Hamilton, a city in Ohio. During his childhood, Jones’s parents empowered him to pursue his dreams. His love for the arts began during Saturday art classes at the Dayton Art Institute that his mom took him to. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting in 1970, and later, with a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting. After a teaching job in Missouri, and while serving as the director of an arts center in Wooster, Ohio, Jones got a call in 1990 from Ralph Burgard. Burgard was a renowned leader and advocate who believed that art programs would help transform communities and that they are tools for economic development. Burgard expressed his confidence in Jones’s ability to direct Hamilton’s arts center.
Silent Rise is an enlightening work that traces the role of the arts in unifying communities, developing skills, using the arts to help students understand academic concepts, and inspiring creativity. In the book, Jones also tackles the challenges that art programs face such as limited funding and how various people including community leaders stepped in and sought solutions. It also shows that regardless of their pasts, cities and communities can benefit from the arts which are significant tools in initiating and maintaining a city’s renaissance and growth. Despite its crime rate and its depiction as an industrial city, Jones saw Hamilton as a suitable place to establish an arts center. Fitton Center’s contribution to educational advancement and economic performance through the years is evident. Silent Rise by Rick H. Jones is an illuminating memoir that explores the important, positive role of the arts in developing cities.