Donor, arts advocate appreciated

The Rockford Area Arts Council’s program ArtsPlace is wrapping up for this year. “We don’t want it to end,” said a drama apprentice as I chatted with them before my board meeting began. We were entertained by the drama and dance teams and had those great Minglewood sandwiches as we invaded their space. Before the meeting officially began, board members took a guided tour of the two storefronts just west of Minglewood, which ArtsPlace has called home.

The space has been generously donated by John and Stephanie Kutsch, who also lease space to Minglewood. I spoke with John, and he had a very clear purpose for this tremendous gift to the Arts Council. “The No. 1 hope for downtown redevelopment involves the arts and culture,” Kutsch said. He stated the principles that you may have heard Mayor Larry Morrissey refer to from Richard Florida’s book, The Rise of the Creative Class. Kutsch stated, “Arts and cultural organizations or businesses have the biggest impact on bringing areas other businesses shy away from back to life.

We have been very fortunate to have the support of the Kutsche’s and others to make ArtsPlace happen this year. It is a vital jobs training program that utilizes the arts. We are very excited that so many people in our community want to participate to positively change our own perception and the perceptions of others about the arts in Rockford.

The final performances are next week, and I promise you a quality experience. An audience is so important. It’s what makes us strive for our personal best. Join us at New American Theater, July 28, 29 and 30 at 7 p.m. The final day of ArtsPlace culminates at Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Gardens with “An Evening with the Arts.” We’d love to see you there.

Anne E. O’Keefe is executive director of the Rockford Area Arts Council.

From the July 27-Aug. 2, 2005, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!