Newtown Needs A Cultural Arts Center

To the Editor:

For 10 years now it has been in the Fairfield Hills Master Plan to build a Cultural Arts Center. Unfortunately, because of budgetary concerns, the town never felt like it had the opportunity to put forward a proposal to make this happen. Now perhaps things are different. There are many of us who believe that right now is the time to finally make having a Cultural Arts Center at Fairfield Hills a reality. And I believe we seriously need to consider what the town and various well-meaning groups, foundations, corporations and major sports teams are spending money on. Let's step back and take a moment to prioritize what would be best for this town, what would do the most good for the people of our community.

Millions of dollars are being spent by pro sports teams, one-shot concerts, memorials, and various projects. Today I read in the paper that the town wants to spend $500k to replace the [artificial] turf in Treadwell Park. Did you know that $500k is the exact amount of money needed to renovate Stratford Hall at Fairfield Hills in order to get it up to code so that it can be moved into? The Newtown Cultural Arts Commission (NCAC) looked at doing just that about 18 months ago, we even created the draft of a business plan, but when it became evident that there was no money to make it happen, we put the plan on the shelf in the hope that some day we could revisit it. 

We have numerous sports fields, numerous gyms, but we don't have a single arts center.  SCAN, (the town arts organization) holds its annual shows in the basement of the library, Flagpole Photographers holds theirs in the hallways of the Municipal Center. The dance companies and theater groups in town rent space to hold their recitals, sometimes they can't even find space in Newtown have to hold their events in other towns! Even town commissions, like the NCAC, have to pay to use Edmond Town Hall. In fact this year the Newtown Arts Festival is going to be having a very special performance the week of the Festival at Walnut Hill Community Church auditorium because we couldn't afford how much money Edmond Town Hall wanted to charge us. Walnut Hill is donating the space to us along with support and resources to make the event happen.

How about we take a step back and seriously look at where spending money would do the most good. I, for one, can't imagine a better memorial than a creative and cultural community arts center, dedicated to the memory of those no longer with us and gifted to those of us here and now to use to lift our spirits, create hope, heal ourselves, and make this an even better town than it already is: day after day, year after year, generation after generation.

Robert Rabinowitz

30 Alpine Circle, Sandy Hook                     July 29, 2013

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