Last Sunday, Nick Ordway received a Horizon Award — as an emerging young artist — at the Westport Arts Awards.
It was a great ceremony. And even though he’s still “emerging,” the Oscar-nominated filmmaker — a Staples grad, Princeton and NYU grad — spoke with the wisdom of the ages.
In his brief speech, he told the Town Hall crowd:
I had a very happy adolescence here in Westport, and I think I can attribute much of that to the prominent role that art had in my life and in this community.
When a community supports and fosters the arts, it’s as if it’s planting a new stand of trees. Everyone can see that trees are beautiful, but what people forget is how much vital oxygen they provide for everyone.
The arts produce a different kind of oxygen, absolutely essential yet equally invisible — so much so that art’s true worth is oftentimes overlooked, and funding and support for the arts are missing on society’s balance sheet.
While some art might have substantial commercial value, much of the arts exists beyond the marketplace. That’s because the arts have a worth beyond the quantifiable.
The beauty and truth of the arts serve as a consistent reminder of what matters in our lives, and what it means to be human. They give some people a sense of purpose, and help others just to get through the day. And they bring us together as a community — they even did so today.
Rather than a commodity to be bought and sold, art is, rather, a gift to be shared and enjoyed. As an artist, I am merely trying to give back both to art itself, for inspiring and transforming me in so many ways, and to the communities and very special family that helped expose me to the arts in the first place.
So thank you Westport, thank you teachers and parents and friends and other members of this vital community; thank you for recognizing me today. I only hope that through my art I can continue to give back what you’ve given to me.