The news that the Westport Arts Center is considering a new building on Jesup Green brought out the “06880” commenters. Some opposed the site; others opposed the WAC itself.
Lost in the discussion was an appreciation of the long — and important — role the arts have played in Westport.
Here — far more eloquently than I could say it — are some insights into that subject.
We can quantify our arts services. We can show how many people visited the Arts Center this past year for concerts, exhibits, lectures and classes. But the story is much more.
It is offering programming that nurtures creativity and broadens opportunities for learning. It is providing affordable studio space for artists, allowing them to remain productive in our community.
It is generating audiences to and from the Center, and in that process providing stimulus to local merchants and restaurants.
It is being a visible symbol to people looking to settle in our region, that we value and support culture.
Corporate and foundation grants, individual gifts and money generated from our concerts, classes and lectures is money that is all returned to the community in services purchased, salaries paid and opportunities provided to people of all ages.
The arts are good business and good sense. They contribute day in and day out to the quality of our region’s social, cultural and intellectual life. Support spurs us to renewed faith in ourselves, and doubles our commitment to even broader and more exciting arts services in the future.
Wise words indeed. And they are as true today as they were 21 years ago, when they were written by Ralph Sheffer. In 1992, he was president of the Westport Arts Center board.