Arts in Local Communities

July 23, 2017

There's something magical and revitalizing about attending a performance or a broadway show; spending hours getting lost in mazes and mysteries of visual art; losing and finding yourself in creating art, and the knowledge that it'll always be there for our entertainment -- but these beautiful galas, the finest and most appreciated forms of performing and visual art, they may not always be there - not without us, at least. The audience - we’re the ones that keep this outlet alive.

 

Photo: Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash 

 

We, as the audience, hold a power to tell artists that they matter. We hold the necessity to attend events and support art in every sense, even if they're only free events, local events, open mics, informal demonstrations, and community performances. Because, without this local involvement in the arts, there wouldn't be events to attend at the Metropolitan Opera, or a New York City Ballet. Local art does not only channel vitality into nationally and internationally known art; it is just as important, for many reasons: “When a community engages intimately and deeply in this way over time with artists skilled in community practice as well as their art forms, burning social issues can surface in the work they do together. A project may also be conceived from the outset to focus on a certain issue of concern within a community...Such community arts endeavors often result in real change. There is now a wealth of data, documentation, and criticism about art that is doing important work like improving students’ test scores, reducing prison violence and recidivism, reaching across racial and class barriers, bringing generations together, and preserving history and culture that will otherwise be lost” (Community Arts at Work Across the U.S.).

 

Art is art no matter how big the stage, or how influential and experienced the performers are. Art is art, even in recreational classes. Art is art, even if performed through your local community. Art is art, even if it isn't your aesthetic.

 

This weekend, I spent my time performing and taking classes at the Southern Vermont Dance Festival while immersing myself in the community of Brattleboro, Vermont. Here, I had the chance to interview Brenda Siegel, founder and artistic director of the festival. Brenda, a woman of drive, passion, and dedication to this art form, wholeheartedly embraces the importance of letting art thrive in local communities.

 

Asking Brenda why her and her team step up for the arts, her answer immediately went to the community first - the festival is very “community minded:” getting an audience within local communities’ artistic work is one of the most paramount roles in dually engaging local business, connection, and art, further strengthening both an economic and personal sense of togetherness.

 

Brenda also stresses how vital it is to keep the art and artistry alive. “Technique is just a means to the art,” she says, explaining how necessary it is for movement to turn art through passion and intention. Along with this, she goes on to say how so many are afraid of pursuing this art form, even just for fun, because of preconceived notions and the sometimes “elitist” nature of the dance world. Brenda says that she doesn't want people to feel as though, “they can't dance,” and strives to offer world renowned teachers’ wisdom and rigor in beginner level classes. To change this perception, the SVDF team steps up for dance and the performing arts, striving to create a community of connection and collaboration, something that is shown throughout every aspect of the festival.

 

Creating a “diversity of dance” through community performances, outdoor galas, traditional shows, multifaceted genres and styles of dance, access to all levels and convictions of classes, a diverse range of performance quality and aesthetic of choreography, the Southern Vermont Dance Festival seems to bring those in who truly want to learn, appreciate, and grow together: a necessary trait in any sustainable community.

 

Jorgie Ingram is a seventeen-year-old artist, activist, writer, dancer, and choreographer, currently living in New Hampshire. Finishing her high school studies online as a senior, she looks forward to continuing her studies in college, majoring in dance. Jorgie's passion is to inspire - whether that be through her artistry, writing, or everyday interactions. She loves to give back, and aspires to do so throughout her life. Apart from dancing all over New England, choreographing for the stage and film, painting, writing, baking vegan goodies, and spending time outdoors with her family and friends, Jorgie is the founder of local environmental group, Kearsarge Changing Climate Change, and one of the lead organizers for NH for Humanity's performance art events.  

 

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