In an evening filled with laughter, music and movement, 16 artists and organizations were honored Wednesday night during the fifth annual Ewing Arts Awards.
Co-sponsored by The Sentinel and Arts Alive!, the annual awards are named for Ruth and James Ewing, the former owners of The Sentinel, who were active in the local arts community for many years.
Jessica Gelter, executive director of Arts Alive!, started off the evening, which was held at Keene State College’s Redfern Arts Center, with some thoughts about the value of the arts. Research Arts Alive! has supported has shown that through nonprofit arts organizations, independent artists and creative businesses, the arts have much to contribute to the local economy, she said.
“From Hinsdale to Hillsboro, Marlow to Macon … that’s almost $100 million of economic impact. So there it is,” she said. “Arts are an economic engine.”
But the true value of the arts goes beyond dollars and cents, Gelter stressed. She held up her own experience as an example, describing how being involved in local theater has given her a family-like community and inspired thoughtful discussion of important issues.
“How do you measure that human connection that arts can bring to our lives? Arts and culture, they bring us opportunities for expression,” Gelter told the crowd. “They bring us opportunities for empathy, healing, learning and joy, and these are all things we need to flourish, to have quality of life.”
She challenged attendees to “reciprocate” by investing in local arts — just as one might “buy local” when it comes to groceries or other goods, communities can do the same in the arts realm by buying work by area artists and attending live concerts and performances, she said.
And judging by the audience’s reactions to the performances laced throughout the evening’s program, there was little doubt Wednesday that the arts are valued in the Monadnock Region.