My first employment as a newspaper reporter in the wilds of the East Anglian Fens in England introduced me to several communities, some large market towns and one of the smallest cities in the UK.
My first news editor informed me that I'd scoop all the best stories at the bar of the local pub. And though the prospect of a ploughmans lunch and a half pint was not unappealing on occasion, propping up the bar of an evening on a week night (unless a fellow cub reporter was along for the outing) wasn't quite my style.
Hence my initiation to the civilized culture of the universal (local) Arts Center. Every market town or small city in England worth visiting has its own, longtime established arts center. One city I worked in, of which I won't mention a name though a very select few who read this post will know to which I refer, had its own arts center and a neighboring American cafe to boot. No one went out for breakfast any day of the week unless they drove a lorry (truck) for a living in that neck of the woods, so the sweet, homey, little American cafe persuaded the locals that pancakes and french toast were perfectly acceptable lunch items.
That particular arts center was a classic diamond in the rough. Anyone who had any appreciation of the arts was welcome and it didn't have to be a special occasion to pop in for a glass of wine and a salad or sandwich at the tiny bar and a peruse of whatever was on the walls that week, or month. Independent films were a mainstay and a regular fixture. Small theatrical productions and family events were peppered throughout the calendar year. Thinking back, it was the place to meet people after hours to talk about what was going on in the town. It was the un-pub public space - one with a couple of stylish, comfortable couches and an air of intellectual possibility, without any pretense.
Arts Centers in more affluent areas of the corner of East Anglia in which I was raised, include this (click here) particularly robust model of a community space in Stamford, Lincolnshire. For an arts center to thrive, it really ought to cater to its wider, greater thinking population. The arts, as we know extend to all outlets of human expression.
Here in Petaluma, gateway to wine country, we are so fortunate to have an exceptional Arts Center in the hub of the city. Still, it is surprising to hear how many people I know here in southern Sonoma County who have yet to step foot inside. This fall, there are all sorts of exciting developments in outreach to bring the arts in all its forms to even more members of the community.
Would you like to volunteer with the Petaluma Arts Center to help put on Artists' Receptions and other one-time small events? The center is putting together a team of people to manage receptions for six to seven exhibitions each year, along with an ongoing series of events — music nights, film nights and more, that need a small set-up of a bar and hors d'oeuvres. Most of the events are in the evening or late afternoon, with occasional mid-afternoon events on the weekend. The Arts Center would greatly appreciate hearing from the sorts of people who are ace at solicit ingdonations for drinks and food, creating and maintain a back-up stock of supplies, managing excellent volunteers, work events, prep and set up the food and bar, clean up at the end of the event. It takes a village to make a community space that we all love and want to frequent. Email email@example.com if you're interested.