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Rev. Joey N. Welsh: Your chance to be a patron of the arts

Another Angle.Your chance to be a patron of the arts, was first published 17 April 2005 in the Hart County News-Herald. Editor Robert Stone notes, "I have rewritten the ending of this column which was an invitation to the Kentucky Voices readings in 2005." The article is of highest importance here with the increasing number of locally produced arts events at Lindsey Wilson College and Campbellsville University and with the local and nearby theater groups -EW
To see other articles by this author, enter "Rev. Joey N. Welsh," or "Another Angle," in the searchbox. The next earlier Another Angle: Who Is Thy Neighbor?

By The Rev. Joey N. Welsh

Your chance to be a patron of the arts

In the Latin language the noun pater or patris means father. Forms of this word have shown up throughout our religious and cultural history, and they are with us yet today. Pater Noster (Our Father) is a traditional name for the Lord's Prayer, coming from the first words of its Latin text. Patristics refers to the study of early thinkers, or fathers, of religious ideas. Patria refers to fatherland or homeland, and the word patriotic arises from it. Then there is the word patron

Most of the time we now think of a patron as someone who is a customer, a purchaser, or a consumer. In its more authentic context, patron refers to someone who helps a new creation come into being and then protects and encourages it. Throughout history those folks who have encouraged -- and even underwritten -- painters, sculptors, composers, and authors have been called patrons of the arts.

During the Italian Renaissance members of the Medici family and several popes were patrons to some of the greatest artists of all time, helping to bring into being works known to all of us over 400 years later. Think of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the statue of David, or the Mona Lisa, all encouraged by prominent patrons of the arts.

My own favorite patrons of the arts in U.S. history were Albert Barnes and Isabella Stewart Gardner, both of whom left substantial art collections housed in museums whose layouts they supervised themselves. Barnes, whose collection remains near Philadelphia, had little patience with anyone who disagreed with his artistic choices. Gardner, on the other hand, enjoyed learning new insights from the writers and composers whom she encouraged while she entertained lavishly in Boston, where her museum remains. I have found both of these collections great to visit.

Closer to home and nearer to our time, Wendell and Dorothy Cherry collected art avidly, and their holdings formed one of the best exhibitions ever to visit the Speed Museum in Louisville. Dorothy has been a great support to several writers, including Marsha Norman, who has won the Pulitzer Prize and Broadway's Tony Award.

Though it is beyond the means of most of us to be patrons of the arts at the same level as the folks I have noted, we all can still play a part in supporting and encouraging new work. Every year from 1990 through 2009 Kentucky Repertory Theatre at Horse Cave hosted public readings of new plays as part of the Kentucky Voices program.The scripts read in 2005 were written by Nancy Gall-Clayton, Walter May, and Larry Pike. Gall-Clayton and Pike had both had plays read during past Kentucky Voices weekends. Gall-Clayton's play, Taking Up Space, and Pike's play, Beating the Varsity, both had received full productions at the theatre, having first come to us through Kentucky Voices. The Pike play, Newsroom, read in 2005 was a revision of a script introduced and discussed during the previous year's Kentucky Voices stage readings.

Walter May, by the way, has acted on stage in Horse Cave, and he even had a prominent role in Pike's Beating the Varsity.

I have read Walter's play, Watershed, as well as major portions of Nancy's play, The Snowflake Effect, and I would commend them both to you even if the playwrights were not good friends of mine. Both plays deal with family relationships, marriage (or lack thereof) and the stresses of culture and environment, but the two works go in very different directions.

Walter's play is a drama in which many stresses are related to its Eastern Kentucky setting, and its characters live in the shadow of past personal and community happenings.

Nancy's play is a comedy, deriving a lot of its energy from cultural and religious expectation and friction.

I cherish both scripts for another, more personal reason: each has a member of the clergy as a major character. I am relieved to report that neither the pastor nor the rabbi is presented as a sinister villain or an idiot, as is often the case in modern fiction, drama, and television.

All three plays offer a lot to entertain and inform us, and all will prompt the audience to think in new ways about several facets of modern life.

Although Kentucky Voices at Horse Cave is no more, when you get a chance to be a part of staged readings, don't fail to take the opportunity. Be there to listen, then share your insights and impressions with the playwrights during feedback sessions after the readings. Take part in helping new plays take shape. Support, encourage, and be a real patron of the arts. You will enjoy the experience, don't miss it!

Editor's Note: The invitation to a 2005 event has been rewritten as a report by Robert Stone.


This story was posted on 2010-05-02 03:46:38
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