The hit musical Rent (most recently done in the valley by SOL Theatre) dedicated an entire song to the topic of this column. For those of us who came of age during the glorious ’90s and remember the show, it is burned into our minds that a year is made up of 525,600 minutes. Other than that tidbit (and angst-filled yet earnest pleadings for love) the song doesn’t offer many specifics about how one actually measures a year.
Thanks a lot, Rent.
So, how do we measure a year? And how the heck do you measure the success of something as ethereal as the arts in a year? I’m not entirely sure, but John Fayhee asked me to write this column, so let’s give it a shot.
Taking the 525,600 minutes (i.e. numerical) approach, we can note that the Temporary inspired and entertained nearly 15,000 people, the Art Base hosted over 15,000 gallery visitors and threw a rockin’ annual fundraiser, Thunder River Theatre produced a full season while successfully launching new initiatives left and right, SOL Theatre put on six productions on top of its summer programs, there was public art on display all over Basalt thanks to the efforts of BPAC (Basalt Public Arts Commission) and community events and Mid-Valley eateries gave local musicians a plethora of opportunities to show off their talents.
Not too shabby.
These are impressive metrics when you consider the population of the Mid-Valley. Kudos that many of us attended dozens of cultural events in 2018. Well done, team. But, besides head counts, what did all of this art actually do for the Mid-Valley?
I believe that this explosion of arts made our community stronger. I know this because I saw kids’ faces light up as they discovered “theater magic” for the first time. I witnessed brave immigrants sharing heartbreaking stories with their adopted community. I watched stunned parents realize just how talented their child really is. I experienced actors transforming themselves into animals as a means to investigate the human experience. I watched complete strangers who didn’t speak the same language learning to dance together. I saw this and so much more in 2018.
At every arts event, our community grew more connected. With each performance, our community identity got clearer. It was as if the Mid-Valley stood up and said proudly, “take a look at us, something fantastic is happening here.”
Something fantastic is happening here, and we should all be proud of it. But, to quote Old Blue Eyes, “The best is yet to come.” None of the artists and arts leaders who helped to create an artistic wave in 2018 are going to rest on their laurels. I’m confident that they are rolling up their sleeves right now with a smile and saying, “Wait until you see what’s next.”
So what is next? How about we celebrate 2018 as a “Year of the Arts” right here in the Mid-Valley?
You can join me on New Year’s Eve at the Temporary. We’ve got Dirty Revival, who will light up the dance floor along with a few other surprises in store for the evening.
Or, head over to Thunder River Theatre and be part of the Crystal Palace New Year’s Eve Bash. Wherever you go, don’t let this amazing year end with a whimper. Go hang out with some artists and give it the send-off it deserves You’ll have a good time, I promise. And when the night is over, we’ll start counting down the next 525,600 minutes.
Ryan Honey is the Executive Director of the Arts Campus at Willits (TACAW), the nonprofit that operates the Temporary in Basalt. Ryan spent nearly 20 years working as an actor, producer and arts administrator in Los Angeles before moving his family to Basalt. You can catch him performing with TRTC’s Consensual Improv up and down the valley. Artistic License and Registration, Please! runs monthly.