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April in Glenwood: Keep the arts alive

I am a lover of the arts. I’ve dedicated most of my life studying them. Participating in them. Writing about them. Luckily there are a variety of arts available for appreciation.

Not just one I must choose to love.

My earliest memories involve developing art skills, mostly drawing and coloring. Also, those magical moments of listening intently to bedtime stories and memorizing John Whitcomb Riley poems made an lasting impact on me. I still love to read.



I need to reserve more time for books in my life.

I spent my childhood adoring music, too, starting with Shirley Temple 45s and moving up to my parents’ Bee Gees records and John Lennon 8-track tapes. My Joan Jett and the Blackhearts “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” album was one of my prized possessions. I danced ballet and tap as a little girl, and even learned to twirl the baton with aspirations to one day become a majorette. That happened for me later in the Carbondale Marching Band at Mountain Fair.



Sometimes it takes a few decades for dreams to come true.

In high school, art club was a favorite extracurricular activity. Especially as we visited the Art Institute of Chicago, home to the “American Gothic” painting by Grant Wood, a sight to behold in person. In college, I minored in art and design after pursuing an interior design degree that I later switched to communication with a journalism focus. One of my most vivid memories was sketching a nude model in class to learn the intricacies of capturing the human form through art.

There’s a first for everything.

The arts, whether they’re of the visual, language, comedy, dance or music varieties, have shaped my life. I panic when I picture life without them. Art stimulates emotion and thought processes that otherwise remain dormant in our brains. The subjectivity of art helps us realize we’re all different versions of the same species. While we share a common space on the planet, we may not always have the same ideas, foster identical beliefs, or even get along with each other.

And that’s OK.

The arts help us relate to one another by bringing our most primal emotions to the surface for examination. Love, rage, happiness, pity, empathy, fear, surprise, sadness, hope, frustration, envy and pride are all emotions I’ve experienced in books, music, movies, TV shows, sculptures, paintings, stand-up comedy, dance, drawing and more.

That’s why I’m passionate about ensuring the arts remain funded.

The presidential plan to reduce arts funding in the name of federal budget cuts has me concerned. Coming after our great nation’s most beloved institutions — including the National Endowment for the Arts, the National for the Humanities and even PBS and NPR — is disheartening for this lifetime art lover. I grew up on “Sesame Street” and “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” on PBS, and have been personally active with NPR programming by co-hosting a show with local radio guru Steve Skinner on Carbondale’s KDNK Community Radio. We were the Sage Counselors, and our mission was to give love advice.

My sage advice these days is to love more.

Maybe the arts aren’t considered as vital a part of living as they are for me. I believe art is universal, and is all around us, especially in the Roaring Fork Valley. The arts draw visitors, create conversation, enlighten our children and spark emotions of all types.

History shows we need the arts.

Last year, the NEA and NEH received $148 million in funding, about .0004 percent of the nation’s $4 trillion budget. It seems minuscule, but the cuts have a trickle-down effect. For 2017, the NEA is awarding more than $30 million in grants to nonprofits and fellowships to individual artists, crossing all artistic disciplines, reaching all states and the U.S. Virgin Islands and cultivating partnerships between the arts and non-arts sectors. That’s all of us.

Each and every one of us.

Locally, Christina Brusig, Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts executive director, is researching how cuts could impact on the valley’s art scene.

“I know that 1.5 percent or $7,500 of our general operating budget is provided to us by Colorado Creative Industries. The Colorado Creates Grant provides state funding to winning grant recipients and is essentially an arm of the NEA,” she said.

Basically the state receives funding from the NEA, so the Center gets funding from the state. That’s also true of other arts-focused organizations in Colorado and beyond.

“I have not been contacted in regards to any cuts yet, however, we are being proactive in the case that we need to launch a fundraising campaign to make up for any difference that may arise. We are very unsure of the future state of our national art scene, but will continue to do everything in our power to ensure it thrives locally,” she said.

Today, we can be proactive by signing the petition being shared on Facebook to stop the cuts. Stay vigilant. Support arts individually, too, if our voices aren’t being heard. For our children, who may grow to love the arts as I did, and their children.

And so on and so on.

April E. Allford loves the new “Victoria” show on PBS. She can be reached at aprilallford@gmail.com.


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