Green’s Farms Elementary School was a decent temporary home for the Westport Arts Center.
An office near Gold’s Delicatessen was not.
Over 4 decades, Westport’s wide-ranging arts organization has bounced around more venues than a street musician. Now, finally ensconced in their comfortable Riverside Avenue space, the WAC celebrates its 40th anniversary year with a special series of exhibitions, concerts, lectures, films, workshops, and probably plenty of other cool arts-related stuff.
The WAC has always been more than a place, says executive director Nancy Heller. Its focus on programs and presentations have allowed it to survive and flourish, even when homeless.
Still, it was tough for people to conceive of a “Westport Arts Center” while listening to a chamber quartet at Pequot Library.
“We want this to be a community center — a home for the arts,” Heller says.
They’re pulling out all the stops to make it happen during this 40th season. The calendar is too lengthy to list here, but highlights include a new, open-minded jazz series under new jazz artistic director Brian Torff; exhibitions ranging from architecture to interactivity to punk rock (!) curated by director of visual arts Terri C. Smith, and a literary juried contest culminating with a live gallery performance.
For decades — in the midst of this arts community — it was difficult for Westporters to “get” what the Westport Arts Center was, and did.
After 40 years, we get it. And boy, is it good.