Written by the Newburyport Daily News: A group of local theaters and organizations have come together to form the Newburyport Arts Collective to ensure the longevity of arts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future.
As we all know, when the dust settles, there will be businesses that don't come back and what we don't want is for that to happen to any of our precious arts organizations," said
Marc Clopton, executive director of The Actors Studio of Newburyport.
The collective includes The Actors Studio, Theater in The Open, The Dance Place, Exit Dance Theater, Firehouse Center for the Arts, Anna Smulowitz Productions and Acting Out Productions, and the goal is to "build on the history of the arts in Newburyport," Clopton said.
In December 2013, the city received a Cultural District designation from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, but Clopton said little effort has been made to build off of that label.
Speaking from the perspective of the groups in the collective, Clopton said, "We feel that it will serve the city and our Greater Newburyport business community if we do a better job of promoting Newburyport as a cultural destination."
All of the groups in the collective have pivoted to digital programming amid the pandemic and though there has been little revenue from it, they are determined to keep going with an eye toward the future.
"If we all intend to still be here for when we can return to live performances, that's going to take a lot of support from the community,"
Clopton said. "So, we need your help to make sure we are all still here when we can go back to brick and mortar."
"I may be off base here, but I think many people simplify the arts as a luxury or some kind of extra, unnecessary part of life when it is just the opposite," Fontaine Dubus, owner and director of The Dance Place of Newburyport, said in a statement.
"Everyone is creative in some way," she added. "To tap into art as a spectator or as an artist enriches us all."
John Moynihan, executive director of Firehouse Center for the Arts, explained how integral the arts are to a community.
When a family decides to relocate their home, for example, they may look for communities with good school systems, but they will also look for a higher quality of life "and the arts are a major aspect of quality of life," he said.
"The growth and sustainability of the arts organizations are what have caused major companies and major corporations to move into a particular city and bring their workforce there," Moynihan said. "So even from an economic standpoint, the arts are so vital."
Americans for the Arts completes a survey every four years and through that study, it has learned that "for every person who comes to take in a cultural event or go to a museum or something like that, they spend an additional $30 on top of the price of admission in the local downtown community — the businesses, the shops, the restaurants," he said.
"From the Firehouse standpoint, between the traffic that we drive in and our own funding that comes in, it's $1.8 million in economic impact every year," Moynihan said.
When combined with the other arts organizations around Greater Newburyport, that economic impact is about $3 million, he said.
"It is easy to take this cultural richness for granted," said Deirdre Budzyna of Acting Out Productions. "This is a time for the city to recognize how important the arts are to Newburyport, both artistically and financially, and commit to lending support."