That really was an epic speech. Let's do this and do this right.
Thanks, Edie, for another thoughtful analysis of the Fine Arts Center.
I've been in town for nearly 25 years, and I've never seen the FAC poised for greater things than it is at this moment. Seriously. From the talent of our directors at the school, theater, box office and galleries to the board and community buy-in, we have tons of reasons to be optimistic.
Our "Wizard of Oz" musical, which opens tonight, should serve as tangible evidence of what we can be at our best. Expect magic, wonder and flying monkeys. Winter classes at Bemis show us at our most immersive and experiential, with an amazing team of instructors, including a Sundance Film Festival winner. Upcoming art shows in our galleries featuring American Folk Art, Dale Chihuly, John James Audubon and other national and regional greats will knock your socks off. And, starting in January, we'll be reviving a number of popular special events, such as First Thursday Wine Tastings, and creating new ones.
We've also expanded our concert season, with upcoming shows that include Haunted Windchimes, Blue Sky Riders and Colin Quinn.
The opportunities to engage with the community on ever more fun and deeper levels certainly spark my imagination, and we hope to do a better job of making everybody feel that not only are they welcome here, but we want their input on how we can best reinvent the FAC.
All that said, we face some significant challenges, many of them financial. As our new Acting Director Dr. Jim Raughton pointed out, donations and membership levels certainly can be described as robust. At the same time, we are just bouncing back from shortfalls that required belt-tightening measures. Even as we reach a more sustainable, balanced budget, our ambitions for ever-more dynamic programming and engagement are dependent upon support from friends of the FAC. That’s why we remain so thankful for our donors and members, and must work hard to earn the support of even more of them by being the most vibrant and significant arts depot in the region.
We are now entering a new transitional phase. The search for a CEO can be an enormous task, and one we take very seriously. But we are not slowing down, and our fingers have never been further from the pause button.
Lastly, about the balloon thing: It was merely a little Wizard of Oz children's festival, which featured cider and cookies, chalk art and a unique way to introduce our Oz characters to kids. Most of the kids and families enjoyed themselves, stayed to have photos taken with the characters and left completely unaware of the small mishap that left minor damage to the balloon and major damage to my arm. The show, however, will be something theatergoers won't forget. Wait till you see the glow of the Yellow Brick Road.
I heard the whole errant wind and Epstein's broken arm were all part of the stunt. I wouldn't put it past him.
I agree. Gathering public input and ignoring it is both an insult to those who show up and a recipe for an arts institution's death.
I also agree that change is essential. But your suggestion that arts partnerships are at the root of the problem might point us in exactly the opposite direction we need to go.
Thanks so much for highlighting Teachout's commentary and so smartly posing the challenges we face at the FAC. I see this as a moment for exactly this kind of discussion.
Why don't we -- the FAC and The Indy -- take this discussion to the next level?
How about co-hosting some public forums on the possibilities? What can we do to bring more excitement and life to the FAC? In particular, how do we engage that babyboomer crowd?
I do think we need to be more audience-centric, while acknowledging that the most valuable things our directors and curators bring is their own specific taste and expertise. Focus groups that try to get at what people want usually tend to ignore the fact that arts audiences, like newspaper readers, don't just want programming that's been focus-grouped to death. They want surprise and delight, and the stuff that's not on the menu.
Still, it would be tremendously valuable to look for ways to create more significant community and audience connections.
What do you think?
We can make smart bombs that can drop into chimneys, but we haven't made advancements in gun technology?
Granted, most of my knowledge on the subject comes from bad Vin Diesel movies, but still...
You repeat excellent arguments about gun control. You say absolutists are rare, and I'm inferring that you're not among them. And yet your arguments all say "no." No to gun control." They all say to me that we shouldn't be having this discussion about weapons. And I'm not disagreeing that the nature of violence goes beyond the tools used, but the tools, at some point, become important.
Now, if your neighbor had a stash of serin gas, the fact that he was also a violent criminal would be a bad thing -- but I'd be really freakin concerned about that gas. We have plenty of violent criminals around, and the causes of violence need to be explored. But wouldn't you be focused on the poison gas that could wipe out our city?
I use this ridiculous extreme example (and you could use the police state example for the other side of this freedom-vs.-authority argument), to point out that sometimes it's access to the weapons themselves that is the issue.
And I'm not even trying to argue for gun control. Only for the idea that we might set our entrenched ideologies aside to have a meaningful discussion about how and where to draw the line on the access to increasingly powerful weaponry.
I haven't heard many folks on either side say this would be OK, but this would be too far.
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