The fact that the arts are essential to life is the underlying message of “Arts Count,” the theme developed by Darke County Center for the Arts to market their current season of presentations. Many weighty truths can be drawn from this basic principle, including the following concepts: the arts preserve and nourish our cultural heritage; the arts are basic to education, providing opportunities for problem solving and critical assessment; the arts strengthen democracy by encouraging the expression and exchange of ideas; and many, many more. But the reason that most people value the arts is simply that “exposure to the arts” enhances life by providing unmatched pleasure, delight, inspiration, and joy, a concept epitomized by DCCA’s presentation of Bluegrass queen Rhonda Vincent and her band The Rage a couple of weeks ago.
Rhonda Vincent embodies the artist’s ideal goal of making a living by doing what one was born to do, and appreciates the good fortune that enables her career. By practicing her chosen trade, she gives of herself, generously sharing her music as well as her inner self with audiences across the country, rightfully earning the devotion and acclaim of fans. The mystical exchange of energy that occurs between artist and audience which continues long after a performance ends magically demonstrates how the arts count in the lives of ordinary folks as well as artists.
Many examples exist revealing the arts’ ability to connect with humankind beyond the immediate audience experience. Rhonda Vincent’s widespread appeal drew people from across the Miami Valley and beyond to Greenville, introducing a new demographic to the charm and warmth of our community. On the day of the concert, an out-of-town fan arrived at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall before the doors opened in hopes of being first in line to purchase a ticket returned to the box office by someone unable to attend; as he waited, he was approached by a DCCA patron carrying a ticket that was not going to be used. The stranger was gifted with the desired prize by the unknown local citizen. But that’s not the end of the story exemplifying generosity and paying-it-forward. When the doors to the concert hall opened, the out-of-towner walked directly to the ticket counter, happily donating the price of admission to DCCA in gratitude for the much-appreciated gift.
One of the factors contributing to DCCA’s decision to present Rhonda Vincent and the Rage was the enthusiastic sponsorship of a local couple who closely follow the artists; their reciprocal appreciative relationship got the ball rolling for the highly successful endeavor. And the tales of meaningful personal connections abound. One local mother was thrilled to learn that her son who lives in faraway Gulfport, Mississippi was traveling back to his hometown to see Rhonda and her band; the mother snagged a ticket for herself and watched as her son not only chatted with the artists after the show but was given a CD, a DVD, and two tubes of Rhonda’s patented lipstick for his daughter as a reward for his extraordinary efforts.
Those in attendance at the sold-out concert learned of Rhonda’s experience at Greenville’s Maid-Rite Sandwich Shoppe, as she extolled the flavor and friendliness of the iconic eatery; but the story didn’t end there. After the show, the group drove their tour bus to the Maid-Rite, and the entire entourage made a contribution to the shop’s famed gum wall; “RV + Rage” now colorfully decorates one of the shop’s front windows. The whole process was recorded and is now, via Facebook, promoting “the Maid-Rite in Greenville, Ohio” around the world.
Authentic artists like Rhonda Vincent contribute much to society as they ply their trade, making the arts count in myriad ways. DCCA can be quite proud of the unexpected and often unexamined benefits accruing to our community as the organization continues to present an array of outstanding artists who touch and enhance lives.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.