Monday, April 27, 2009

What's Goin' On (Part 1)

Vocalist Lynn Knapp brings her Quartet to Public Bar & Grill's Tuesday Jazz After Work series April 28 for a 6 p.m. date. Joining the fine stylist will be her husband Vin Knapp (drums), Don de Palma (piano), Jimmy Biggins (saxophones) and Steve Benson (bass.) Go early and then head over to City Hall at 7 p.m. for the Budget discussions. As you have already read, the Middletown Commission on the Arts will probably take a big hit when all is said and done (read here.) Granted, the proceeds from this year's Mayor's Ball is targeted for the arts but there are other conditions making it tough for grant recipients.

As most of us understand, it's not easy to put a value on the arts. Yes, there are ticket sales but that's the end result of a long process that starts with ideas, rehearsals, advertising, promotion, salaries (in many instances) and competition. Yes, we know when we walk out after a Chorale concert or an Oddfellows production or a night of dance at Wesleyan or see a video from the Green Street Arts Center or attend the city-wide Arts Exhibition or hear John Basinger's amazing work on "Paradise Lost", we know how good it feels to do those things in our home town. Think of the many people who come in from out-of-town. Many of them buy dinner in one of our fine restaurants and shop in out stores, pay for parking, and walk through the town. In a report to the Middletown Commission on the Arts, commissioner Joyce Kirkpatrick stated that the arts brought over $1,000,000 dollars to the city - and that was over 7 years ago!

If you can't attend the meeting but you want to help the cause, call or write the members of the Common Council (click here for more information.) The Mayor has spoken by presenting his budget and now it is your turn. No matter what happens this year, many of us involved with the arts in the area are really scared about 2010-11 budget, especially in light of the current recession. But, one year at a time.

Back to the events:
Poet-translator Linda Zisquit will read at 8 p.m. in The Russell House, 350 High Street, as part of the Jewish & Israeli Studies Program at Wesleyan. Zisquit, the author of 3 collections of poems, has translated the works of many modern Israeli poets including Yehuda Amichai, Yona Wallach and Rivka Miriam. She also edits an Israeli poetry magazine and runs ARTSPACE, a gallery for contemporary art in Jerusalem. Her reading is free and open to the public.

Toumani Diabate is a master of the kora, the 21-string harp unique to West Africa. He is among the first artists responsible for introducing this beautiful instrument to audiences around the world and has collaborated with with many renowned artists including Bjork, blues master Taj Mahal and jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater. Aside from being a player of exceptional virtuosity and creativity, he was born and has lived all his life in Mali's capital city of Bamako, where he is at the vanguard of a new generation of Malian griots (bards). The griots are constantly looking for ways of modernizing while still honoring their traditional music. Winner of the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Traditional World Music Album, Diabate also plays vital roles as bandleader, teacher, musical conservationist and composer.

Diabate is appearing at Wesleyan this Saturday evening May 2 at 8 p.m. as the final show in the 2008-09 Crowell Concert Series. He'll be leading his 11-member Symmetric Orchestra, an Afro-Pop ensemble that can and should rock Crowell to its core. Diabate is a stunning player and one will hear what sounds like American folk and blues music in his Malian songs.
The "Pre-concert talk" will feature Associate Professor of Music Eric Charry at 7:15 p.m. For ticket information, call 685-3355.

1 comment:

Karen Swartz said...

I have sent a letter to the common council members regarding my support for arts funding and opposition to cuts and I am challenging and encouraging others to do the same.

Here is my letter:

Dear Council Members:

When I moved to Middletown 10 years ago, one of the main attractions that drew me here was the vibrancy of the arts community. At that time Middletown had recently been nationally recognized as being one of the top 100 communities to live in for arts and had been the national host of a major poetry event along with many other arts credits. Below my signature I have listed all the venues for the National Poetry Slam and Middletown is in the same list with some of the nation's largest and most prominently artistic cities (Chicago, San Francisco, Austin).

It is important to me to live in a place where arts and expression are a vital and integral part of the community. It is important not just for adults to be able to express themselves and participate but even more so for children to have access to various forms of arts. Especially in tough economic times it becomes even more important for children to have outlets, and for the parents of children to have low cost access to those outlets for their children. I am very opposed to the proposed cuts to the City's arts budgets and the reduction in funding compared to past years. Specifically the cuts in the grants program and the increase in fees that families will pay for KidsArts will present a hardship to the community.

When tough economic times hit, it may seem like arts funding is expendable. I am concerned that the damage that may be caused by reducing people's access to arts programs is not worth the perceived up front savings.. Please consider funding for arts in Middletown at or above the past and current levels as this is an extremely valuable part of our City's fabric and identity. We should be proud of the recognition that we have received for our arts community and should strive to keep the arts in Middletown vital.

Karen Swartz

Locations for the National Poetry Slam - 1990 San Francisco, CA
1991 Chicago, IL
1992 Boston, MA
1993 San Francisco, CA
1994 Asheville, NC
1995 Ann Arbor, MI
1996 Portland, OR
1997 Middletown, CT
1998 Austin, TX
1999 Chicago, IL
2000 Providence, RI
2001 Seattle, WA
2002 Minneapolis, MN
2003 Chicago, IL
2004 St. Louis, MO
2005 Albuquerque, NM
2006 Austin, TX
2007 Austin, TX
2008 Madison, WI
2009 West Palm Beach, FL