I read with care and consideration your recent story on the Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center (SLPAC) and Steve Cirbus. My takeaway is that it is very good news to have people who care about making SLPAC great. I have spent my adult life serving the citizens of Orange County through the theater arts. Although I have never met Steve, I can tell from the story that his enthusiasm, vision, and vigor are all in line with the ultimate overall mission of the arts, namely, to serve. The business of art...is business.
Purchasing the complex was and remains a big move. I applaud that move as we, as a region, are in a position to make great moves really flourish. We have a demographic of youth, teen, and adult artists and enthusiasts who will surely take advantage of arts-education offerings, including acting, directing, dance, visual arts, music, playwriting, and more. Such activity not only serves as an income source, but also as a feeder program into such things as repertory companies, main stage productions, and community outreach initiatives (nursing home recitals, veterans' hospital workshops, senior center presentations, etc.).
There used to be, some 25 years ago, a sense in Orange County that quality theater and productions only existed in New York City. It wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now. Do you know where “New York City actors” come from? Places like Indiana and Vermont and, wait for it — Blooming Grove, Monroe, and Chester — yes from our whole county and region. We have a huge collection of credentialed, trained, experienced artists with proven track records of service to audiences and service to student-artists. I’ve been working and collaborating with many of them since 1994.
Art is and must be, by definition, collaborative. Even the lonely writer of the next great novel is lost if nobody reads his book. Audiences must be sought after, developed, nourished, thanked, engaged, and embraced. Audiences are a cherished part of the performing arts. We serve them.
Without people — lots of them — to create, educate, support, volunteer, attend, and contribute the arts are a daunting undertaking. With those elements, and with a clear vision and plan, the arts are a source of community connection and public pride. Indeed, I think it is very good news to have people who care about making SLPAC great. Consider me one of them.
Ken Tschan has an M.A. in theater studies and is a teaching-artist and founder or Cornerstone Theatre Arts in Goshen.