My past year at The Matthews Opera House and Arts Center has been nothing short of the most exciting time in my young adult life. The experiences that I have had the opportunity to be a part of, the people that I have had the chance to meet and work with, and the places that I have been fortunate enough to travel to have all been dream-like. Yet all of this work starts with engaging with this community that I have been calling home now for nearly five years.
This entire year, all of the work that I have got to do with this community has really got me thinking about how fast everything seems to just go by. Which is the reason that I am writing this blog post. I feel like the time is now to start filling everyone in on what engaging the community really looks like.
So from here on out, you can expect to start periodically seeing posts from myself just to keep everyone updated on what kind of exciting work the Matthews, and the community of Spearfish, has in store for you.
Both the months of October and November went by so fast that I think everyone here at the Matthews is still trying to make sense of everything that just happened. We welcomed our friends from Sioux Falls, JAS Quintet, for an evening of experimental jazz and great company; I journeyed across the country for a two week hiatus that brought me to gorgeous Maine and connected me with some of the nation’s brightest innovators for the 2019 PopTech conference; we all had collective goosebumps as our community theater put together arguably the most intense theatrical performance I have ever seen on our stage with “Veronica’s Room;” and then we all had our hearts melt as the brotherly duo “The Talbott Brothers” made their way on to our opera house stage for a concert that people are still talking about.
And yet the memory that is stuck in my brain like a catchy song you can’t get rid of came all the way from Chaska, Minnesota. This was the site for The Creativity Community Cohort 2, an annual meeting put together by The Bush Foundation, one of The Matthews Opera House’s greatest allies in their financial, networking, and professional development support.
The Creativity Community Cohort 2 (CCC2) is a gathering of art administrators like me that span North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and the 23 indigenous lands within those states. It is a three day event that allows all 50 of us art enthusiasts to meet up, swap ideas, build our networks, celebrate the work we have been doing, and also see where growth is needed.
Never in all my 24 years have I ever felt more welcomed and at home than I did while in Chaska. To see the work that is being done not just in South Dakota, but in this entire tri-state region, has left me feeling both dignified and suddenly galvanized and ready to take action.
Seeing the work that many of my peers are doing, the way they are influencing communities through art placement, how art is being used to call forth equity, and seeing how creative placemaking can bring communities together only makes me want this more for our home. My big take away after hearing from the other cohort members is this: I think major accomplishments all start with a conversation and being open to work with one another and share the community.
Much of this is already happening, I look at the murals that are sprouting up through our downtown, I see young children who are showing a passion and interest in the arts, I see a campus in our town that is flourishing with students and faculty looking to make a difference in our community, and I see all of the lovely people who call Spearfish home embracing the change and enjoying what is happening around town.
It’s funny how taking a step back, and leaving for two weeks, only made me appreciate this community even more than I ever have. I am lucky to call the community my home, so the time for positive change is now.