Congratulations to Daniel J. O’Malley, an assistant professor of English at Marshall University. He was named Huntington’s first Literary Laureate.

The position of Literary Laureate was inspired by the city’s sesquicentennial this year.

O’Malley, who will receive a $2,000 stipend, will represent the city and make presentations during his two-year term. He also will be involved in the planning of a literary festival.

The city of Ashland has surpassed its 150th birthday, but it’s never too late to put a good idea into action.

A block in Ashland’s downtown is designated as the arts district. Unfortunately, arts activities in downtown are fading away. Revival is needed.

While the Paramount Arts Center and the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center thrive, much of the visual arts scene has disappeared and, with the exit of the Jesse Stuart Foundation from downtown, the literary arts aren’t represented. The COVID-19 pandemic has set the arts community back as well.

That’s why Ashland should consider appointing an Arts Laureate. This should be a person who has a passion for all the arts and the city, as well as someone who has the drive and the time to commit to developing, attracting and promoting arts-centered events for downtown Ashland.

An Arts Laureate also should have as the goal of involving those who might not normally participate in the arts. Encouraging more to be exposed to any facet of the arts is good for the individuals and good for the city.

While events could be scheduled in the arts district, events need not be restricted to Ashland or even Boyd County. Drawing in other towns in the Tri-State encourages more traffic in Ashland. Not only is involvement in the arts part of a well-rounded education, it can provide economic stimulation for the region as a tourism draw.

There is no reason not to promote the arts in Ashland. Appointing someone to champion that cause would be a step in the right direction.

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