"These are desperate times, Mrs. Lovett, and desperate measures must be taken!”
So says the barber Benjamin Barker, the protagonist in the musical theater classic “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” Not that the Norwich Arts Council is in any way advocating the creation of meat pies from friends, neighbors or, as the song goes, “a little priest,” but arts are in crisis.
Connecticut, through the ongoing promotion of Local Arts Agency offices, is taking a positive step toward assisting artists and arts organizations statewide in becoming not only self-sustaining, but a positive economic driver toward statewide recovery. The Local Arts Agency Cultural Leadership program supports local/regional allies of the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism and establishes a network of organizations helping to develop a statewide infrastructure to serve Connecticut’s residents.
Meat pies aside, the Norwich Arts Council is here to provide service to arts and cultural institutions, artists, the creative work force and the public based on needs in the areas of arts and culture.
For example, NAC is hosting an educational program for artists and cultural organizations on Aug. 24 in the Donald L. Oat Theatre called “Using Social Media and Email Marketing to Promote your Art.” Presented by April Woodcock, of Touching Clients, the goal of the program is to teach artists and arts and cultural groups to use free or nearly free promotional avenues to market their own unique products.
In the area of networking, NAC hosts Art After Hours, with the basic structure of the Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours events but with an educational element. This opportunity for the creative community to join together has had some interesting outcomes, such as ArtistShare.
While most have little money for such luxuries as copy and fax machines, rehearsal space, set pieces, desks or computers, you never know who might have such material to be shared. In any normal business office, these items may be standard, but local nonprofits struggle to keep doors open and arts and culture alive for our constituents. Through the sharing program, the creative community comes together for mutual support. If you are a part of that community and are interested in coming to the next Art After Hours, please call the NAC office.
The LAA office is supporting the arts and artists through the creation of a directory of visual and performing artists. The first issue is being compiled now, and additional artists, studios, groups, etc., may be added to the current or fall/winter books.
The Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism continues to take positive steps in these tough times, including the recently hosted Arts in Crisis program by Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center, tourism roundtables, web education programs and more.
Drastic cuts have certainly sent the community spinning, but desperation breeds creativity and the arts, culture and cultural tourism are looking to be a driving force in assisting the economic recovery of our region. Without turning our neighbors into meat pies.
- Karen Beasley
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