The arts build heARTS

A Letter from the Executive Director

As I reflect on the past few days and my role as the Arts Guild’s Executive Director and a positivity perpetuator within our community, I realize that to say nothing at all about the outcome of the recent election would be a missed opportunity to do what we, as artists and arts supporters, do best: build community, bridge divides, bring about meaningful dialogue and action.

Whether you are shouting for joy or weeping tears or find yourself somewhere in between, perhaps the one thing that we can all agree upon is this: the election this year was different. It was divisive in unprecedented ways.

Now, as we enter a new phase of our nation’s, state’s, and city’s history, we have an opportunity, one that I don’t want us to forget: we have an opportunity to use what we know–the arts–to provide a space and means for civility and for bringing disparate voices to the table. We need to listen to better understand our neighbors’ perspective. The arts are an important social service that help us make connections with each other.

This opportunity will not be easy. It will be fraught with misgivings, likely with even more uncertainties. Because let’s be honest: to engage with diverse viewpoints is uncomfortable at best. To acknowledge that you may not know all the answers–or that someone else’s solution might in fact be better than yours–goes against our natural inclinations. To enter into a dialogue with an open mind–whew. It’s tough. It’s just real tough. I struggle/am struggling with it.

But we must take the opportunity to use the arts to show the beauty that exists in each of us, regardless of whom we supported in this election, and in our larger community; to use the arts to focus on all that we have in common; to use the arts to celebrate this journey of life that we each participate in.

I firmly believe that now, more than ever, the arts are necessary for repairing the divided heart of our great nation, of our great state, of our great town. The arts build our heARTS. This building of heARTS is a process that is ongoing and never complete. Artists and arts supporters who are already contributing so much to this necessary work through what you do each and every day, I thank you.

But we have an opportunity here to do better, be better, and so my challenge to me, to you, to all of us is this: let’s use what we know–the arts–to build even bigger heARTS. Let’s continue to do what we are doing–and more–to better understand all the heARTS we have in our community. Our future as a civilized society depends upon our ability to listen, to understand, and to create anew.

I and the Arts Guild are here to help you and us do this necessary work. Suggestions always welcome :-)

Yours in service, building heARTS one creative moment at a time,
Alyssa Herzog Melby
Executive Director/Positivity Perpetuator