"Creativity is needed in every career, in every building being built, everywhere you go, look, eat, work and play. You could say art is the research and development arm of culture - without it, society would flounder. There needs to be a place where creative skills are nurtured and allowed to flourish."
Henson says Danville is "blessed to be the home of an unusually high number of arts groups," and a Community Arts Center would be a good home for those varied groups.
"In fact, that is one of the extraordinary features of this city," she adds. "Asheville, N.C., and Austin, Texas, are creative boom-towns, where business and art are thriving together. Danville has the potential to be such a place, to attract and keep progressive thinkers and be a 'destination city' for its arts.
"I think there is a need in the community and a willingness among the various arts organizations to work together. Throughout its 54-year history, Pioneer Playhouse has worked to spawn and support local arts groups and will be proud to continue that tradition."
Visual artist Robert Moler, whose Gallery on the Square closed in August, says a community arts center is needed and a good idea, but he questions "the sincerity of the people in charge of it." He believes a strong arts education focus that is accessible to all students is important.
"We live in a community where there are many people who can't afford the arts, and there are people who can economically afford the arts," he explains. "What I struggle with in this community is lack of arts education - it all goes back to education.
"You have (visual) art teachers who don't have a budget to work with. On the average, in the schools, at the elementary level, there is less than $2 per child for supplies."
Moler says he applied for an art teacher position at Hogsett Elementary, which is when he became aware of the dearth of funds for visual arts education. "Their supply budget averaged $1.51 per child for the entire year," he notes.
It's not enough, Moler adds.
"That's the main problem that I see. You can have a nice, fancy community arts center but it's just showcasing the flowers of the community and forgetting about the roots of the future. ... It's a ripple effect. If you don't support (educational efforts) financially now, you will not see the results down the road.
"You can offer all kinds of art classes, but only the people who can afford them will take the classes. Children who can't afford them won't take the classes unless there's some sort of scholarship money. ... If it's a true community arts center, it should not cater to the wealthy in the community. It should meet everyone's needs, regardless of economic status."
Moler says he realizes the CAC "can't be expected to reach all the children."
"But no one is standing up for children," he says. "The concept of a community arts center, I wish it was in the school system, instead of this icing on the cake. It doesn't address the problem (of lack of arts education)."
And frankly, Moler says, he doesn't believe this community will support the Community Arts Center. Before his gallery closed, he hosted eight national shows and several Kentucky artist shows, sending out up to 500 invitations to receptions for the shows, with little response or support.
"They like to talk the talk, but they don't walk the walk," he notes, adding he had little support from the community after the newness of his gallery wore off a few years ago. "Having had a gallery that struggled for four years, I'm not sure the community will support a community arts center.
"It was very frustrating. I had eight national shows. At first, they were well-attended. It was like a child with a bright, new, shiny toy. Everyone wants to play with it at once, then the luster fades and people forget about you. ... I slowly saw attendance dwindle down to 10 or 15. That's reality."