By Jeanne Thomas
As I drive into town, I feel so proud and excited to see the beautiful new building that is the new high school. I think of all the hard work and divided opinions, fears and concerns, that surrounded this project and how the dedication of a small group of people to provide excellence in education has brought something beautiful and inspiring to Red Lodge. Something that everyone can look at and feel proud of and say, "we did this!"
Working on the RLPSF (Red Lodge Public School Foundation) board, I am able to witness firsthand the way this small group of people, led by board chairwoman Betty Hecker, is able to really make a difference in the quality of lives of this generation and hopefully for generations to come. This is something I believe we all want: to accomplish something worthwhile in our lives; to make someone else's life a little better and a little fuller. I've always approached this through the arts and have a firm belief in the ability of the arts to inspire and provoke people into both thought and action, to bring a quality to life of deep introspection and meaning.
Recently I've been watching "Ovation TV," a station that comes with my DirecTV satellite package that explores the arts. This past week they have spoken with architects. I've always been drawn to architecture as it affects so intensely the ways that I feel and in many ways the ways that I feel about myself. I love beautiful churches, certain rooms, high ceilings, and beautiful vistas. They all have the ability to bring me close to a religious sense of awe, beauty, calm, and wonder; a sense of myself in relationship to the infinite. I feel that where I live, the kinds of spaces I inhabit profoundly affect my sense of my self, my importance, my place in the world. I believe that the new high school may generate a feeling of pride, and of the significance of education to those who study and teach in this new, beautiful environment.
I also feel this way about the performing arts. There exists in Red Lodge a clear and continued devotion to the performing arts in all their varieties, and the venues we have are several and colorful; but if you speak to most of the artists who perform in them or who arrange for students to perform in them, they'll mention a few difficulties. Most performers I know in this town would love to see an excellent acoustic facility with architecture that inspires, comfortable seats, and a good stage floor for dance and movement arts. Beyond these few basics there exists a multiplicity of opinions and needs.
Should we restore an existing, historically significant building in Red Lodge, and if so which one? Or should we build from scratch and if we go that route where should it be? Who should own the building? The school? The city? An independent nonprofit? An arts council? A combination of the above?
The RLPAC (Red Lodge Performing Arts Consortium) is of many opinions as is the RLPSF. Together they are visiting sites all over the place to see what other cities have done and how it is working out for them and what difficulties and successes they have achieved.
This is a very exciting moment for all of us working on this dream. The many fundraisers this past year, held to promote the development of a dedicated performing arts center in Red Lodge, are a testimonial to the enthusiasm both of the performing artists themselves and to the citizens of this town who support the performing arts and who love to see them thrive and prosper.
The RLPAC wants to send out a giant thank you to all of those who so generously produced and performed in and attended any or all of these performances including:
Thank you all and may our dreams of a performing arts facility that will benefit the school and the City of Red Lodge come true!
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