Do you ever hear something that literally makes you cringe? I had that reaction recently to the discovery of a scheme to force the nickname TOHO on my hometown. TOHO is not an intuitive acronym by any means, standing for TO(rrington) H(ome) O(f the Arts). I bet you’re scratching your head now, too.
Their hearts are in the right place. At least, I’d like to think so. For my hometown is in fact becoming a center for the arts. We have the well-known Warner Theatre and Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory. There are art galleries, like Artwell and Five Points. There’s CAFTA, focusing on arts education. My personal favorite, the Desultory Theatre Club, benefited from a State of Connecticut CreateHereNowCT grant, which provided its venue space on the 1st floor of the former Morrison’s Hardware Store at 63 Water Street. But with their trial period coming to a close–and facing a proposed exorbitant rent increase–they very likely will be forced to relocate.
The Desultory Theatre Club’s potential forced relocation brings to light the dilemma of an arts center. They’re wonderful when the public supports them, with the potential to create a ripple effect for surrounding businesses as patrons grab a bite to eat before/after events or browse the boutiques lining Main Street, drawn in by their charm as they pass en route to their destinations. Sadly, non-profit arts groups quickly transform into empty spaces when the public forgets about them. These attractions are often under-funded and under-appreciated, leaving them in a tenuous situation that could change at a moment’s notice. And it shouldn’t be this way.
I cannot count how many times I’ve heard that there’s nothing to do in town. Nothing to do? Are you blind? Between Main Street Market Place on balmy Thursday nights in July and August, big-ticket entertainment sharing the stage with community theater at the Warner Theatre, canvas-painting parties at The Art’s Desire, a multitude of eating options scattered throughout the city, and great venues bringing the excitement here, right in our own backyards, so we don’t have to travel halfway across the state, there is no cause for complaint. It really is happening here. You only have yourself to blame if you’re bored.
The trouble is, we all will have ourselves to blame if the arts we are proudly proclaiming to be our main attraction disappear as well. And then what will there be left to do?
What can you do to help?
Get on up off the couch and get on out there! This Saturday night, you’ll find Tracy Walton performing with Mic Nicosia and Hannah Fair at The Desultory Theatre Club. This may be their last show at 63 Water Street. Let’s hope it’s not their last show altogether.