Editorial: Summit reminds us of contributions of the arts
This weekend, theater buffs in the Tri-State can enjoy several innovative local productions, ranging from a youthful take on Disney's "Little Mermaid" to an interactive murder mystery to the haunting "Dracula The Musical."
That's not counting a touring company production of "The West Side Story."
The arts calendar also includes a huge range of music from a classical recital at Marshall University to funk grooves and rock at the V Club to bluegrass at the West Virginia Pumpkin Park's new concert venue.
Meanwhile, a growing number of galleries in the region showcase the handiwork of local painters, sculptors and artisans.
To say the region is alive with the arts is an understatement.
The Huntington Museum of Art has been praised by Chairman of the National Endowment of the Humanities Jim Leach as "perhaps the finest museum in America for a city its size." Marshall University's College of Fine Arts not only provides top-flight educational opportunities but also concerts, plays and exhibitions enjoyed by residents throughout the area. The Huntington Symphony Orchestra, the Marshall Artists Series and a host of other community performance groups not only entertain us but also introduce young and old to the fine arts in a live setting.
The historic Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center in Huntington and Paramount Theater in Ashland provide remarkable venues for both local and touring shows, and The Big Sandy Superstore Arena hosts top national concert tours.
Marshall's plans to move its visual arts program into the former Stone and Thomas department store building in the heart of downtown Huntington will only raise the profile of the arts in Huntington.
This vibrant scene is not only great for area residents, but it also adds to regional tourism and the area's quality of life, which is so important to economic development.
So, it was good to see a strong turnout of artists, arts organizations and arts supporters this week for the first Huntington Arts Summit. About 120 people gathered to discuss how the community can work together to nurture and promote the arts.
Some arts leaders already are working on putting together an application for Huntington to become a Certified Arts Community. Charleston, Morgantown and several other communities in the state already have received that designation through the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, and Huntington certainly deserves that recognition.
Even more importantly, the summit reminds all of us of the many ways artists and arts organizations enrich our own lives and our community. Showing your support is not only easy, but it's fun.
Just buy a ticket and enjoy the show.