West Valley City is viewed by some people as being a "cultural desert" when compared to the rest of the Salt Lake Valley. However, a recent event shows otherwise.

Host families were needed on Aug. 16 to house two foreign performing arts groups from the Czech Republic and the Ukraine. The two groups came to Utah to perform at the Bountiful Summerfest International up in Davis County and were going to be staying a little longer than planned. Even with only five days' notice, they were all housed with host families in West Valley City. They were picked up from the Bountiful Davis Arts Center, where they switched from the Bountiful host families to the West Valley host families. Many of the host families from our city were the quiet people we probably will never meet at any city event. They were willing to share their time, home and whatever else they had. As a sign of gratitude, these groups gave a free concert at Centennial Park in West Valley City. Through the efforts of many people, the West Valley Arts Council and the Parks and Recreation Department put together the plan for that night. Mayor Gerald Wright presented two special plaques to these cultural groups. And the performance began.A mesmerized audience, trying to soak in these cultural arts got really soaked in the rain that slowly came down, pouring down on approximately 200 people. The Czech performers, seemingly enjoying the downpour, continued to finish their program. The audience ignored the request for it to move to the Bowery. And our own mayor and his wife were there, wet just like the rest of us. Arts, cultural arts, especially folk arts, can do wonders.

Big, small, growing communities with people who are involved not just as spectators but as participants in the project can make any event be saturated with support from the people.

This city is unstoppable in its growth in every way as is the negative perception that seems to cling to the city like a leech. No amount of argument can take them away. But if our communities, regardless of color, creed and all the differences among them, can come together and enjoy those differences by doing something common to one another, in an atmosphere of positive arts, cultural arts and folk arts appreciation, we can beat the leeches that try to smear the image of our city. We can divert the attention not only of the faultfinding media but also of whatever internal problems we may have in the city into something positively human, a heritage-based program. We really cannot go anywhere unless we know where we are coming from. We are all immigrants to this country, some came earlier, some later, and many more are coming; Italians, Czechs, Scandinavians, Greeks, Asians, Polynesians, English and many others. Learning from each of these people can really add to the quality of life in this city. Let us make that learning not just active but interactive. An International Folk Arts Festival is in the planning for West Valley City.

That night at the Centennial Park, Aug. 17, is an urgent proof we are long overdue for heritage-based cultural arts, a folk arts festival. Let us give West Valley City an international flavor by hosting performing artists from all over the world, prior to the 2002 Olympics.