By Marilyn Delk
Darke County Center for the Arts is currently finalizing artists’ contracts for the new 2023-2024 season which officially begins July 1. And I assure you that those performing artists will be really, really good; they may not be household names or even anybody you ever heard of, but they will possess high degrees of talent. That assurance comes in part from having attended showcases presenting artists for consideration by arts presenters, and watching the stunning parade of amazing talent seeking bookings as performers display their wares before people who they hope will hire and reimburse them for doing what they know they were born to do. So much talent exists, so few slots are available for earning a living through utilizing that talent; achieving fame often has little to do with how skilled one becomes at an artistic craft.
A prime example of highly talented artists who are not (yet) famous could be found in our community last Thursday when Elden Kelly performed as the closer for DCCA’s Coffee House Series at Arcanum’s Wayne Trail Historical Society before a rapt audience who understood that they were experiencing something wonderful. A masterful guitarist, Elden charmed and entertained with a delightfully mind-blowing mix of genres, all performed—and received—with loving enthusiasm. He so obviously loves to play and explore and create, and is very, very good at what he does; but unless you were among that small crowd in attendance, you probably have never heard of him. This stark reality does not mean that Elden cannot make a living with his talent, only that his creativity must include cobbling together a variety of jobs to do so.
Elden grew up in a musical household, embracing the guitar at an early age, discovering and mastering a broad range of music that includes classical, jazz, world music, and American roots, as well as Latin, flamenco, Indian, modern swing, and African polyrhythms. Today, Elden does solo gigs across the U.S., works with other musicians in ensembles, and teaches guitar in his current hometown, Lansing, Michigan, happily sharing his massive talent with others while continuing to learn and stretch and explore beyond the musical heights he has already attained.
Yet, many people will respond to all of the above information with this dismissive comment: “I never heard of him!” My response to that reaction is: So what! You will not find a more talented performer than Elden Kelly, regardless of fame or lack thereof. And you can trust DCCA to only present artists who are very good at what they do, whether you have heard of them or not.
If you attend any of DCCA’s presentations, you are undoubtedly aware of how your life is enhanced by taking advantage of the opportunity to enjoy gifted artists sharing their talents with others, whether or not the artist is well-known. DCCA’s 2022-23 season has only one concert left; Toledo Symphony Orchestra will bring their lovely and powerful sound to Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall on Saturday, May 27, closing the series of shows designed to “Bring You Back” to enjoy the benefits derived by attending enriching, entertaining events.
DCCA’s 2023-24 season is one to look forward to with happy anticipation; you may find a name you recognize among the artists who will be performing, or you might not—but it doesn’t matter. DCCA can be trusted to only bring excellent performers to share their unique talents, whether or not those talents have brought the artist a measure of fame. Attaining renown is not an automatic response to achieving excellence in artistic pursuits; fame and talent are not necessarily related to each other.
Please understand this—DCCA does not present junk. DCCA officials know that too much astounding talent abounds for them to waste time considering presentation of anything less than excellent artists skillfully doing what they were born to do.