New arts center offers a chance to think big

November 04, 2003|LONNIE HARP

Whether it's making a movie, writing a story, or painting a picture, the first excitement about art is wondering what's being created. Will we like it? Will it surprise us? Will it be original?

People are obviously having those same kinds of thoughts about what will become of Danville's Federal Building as it becomes the Community Arts Center. Its most obvious function will be as a new, central home for music, art, dance, and drama lessons and rehearsals. But that's only part of the picture.

For the past few months, an education committee has been busy making plans to use the center to move this community, already rich in arts programs, several steps further. We see the center striving to offer something for everyone regardless their artistic experience or income. Whether it's writing clubs, architectural talks or tours, classes that help people know more about local performances or exhibits, or new weekend or after-school classes for kids, we forsee the center opening as an inclusive place that can spark new creativity and arts interest in Danville and beyond.


Art starts with imagination. The Community Arts Center offers an opportunity to think big and in new ways. Hosting the community's all-important core arts programs may be the building's basic role, but we want to go further: to offer original arts-related classes, activities, lessons, and more, targeting the whole community. As we think about what will be appealing, we are also thinking about what will be affordable and convenient.

Across the country, local arts centers are reaching out to people of all ages. The Center for Community Arts in Cape May, N.J., offers weekly drumming circles. The Community Arts Center in Auburn, Ala., gets senior citizens together to write and record oral history. The Ashland, Ohio, Community Arts Center offers courses connecting arts and science for elementary-school-age children.

We want Danville's Arts Center to be among the nation's best and most inviting.

Our education committee is looking at ways to reach out to the community - from children to college-age students and young adults to parents and grandparents - and use the arts center to offer programs not available before. We're in the process of recruiting a youth advisory committee to work with us and the center's board to make smart decisions about how best to attract and serve all young people.

We think we're sketching a picture that will look both new and exciting.

When the community gets its first look in a few months, we hope you, your family, and your neighbors and your friends will quickly spot ways you can get involved or learn something that sparks your own artistic thoughts or abilities.

We tell people from other places that Danville is an amazing community for its size, with a lot to offer and culture galore. Whether you perform Shakespeare in the shower or have trouble carrying a tune, the Community Arts Center will soon be one more obvious reason to brag about living here.

Lonnie Harp is education committee chairman for the Community Arts Center.

Central Kentucky News Articles