Let arts guide us to prosperity

Published 4:44 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2012

To the editor:
I totally agree with Michael Doty’s suggestion re abandonment of non-productive ideas to concentrate on the positives. Tryon needs to formulate a long-term master plan and calendar for the whole community, utilizing the best and brightest leadership, which is so abundant in this and surrounding towns.
I would like to share the success story of a similar community filled with the same talent and much foresight for future growth. Niagra-on-the-Lake (NOTL), Ontario, Canada – my hometown – tagged the “prettiest town in North America” by Winston Churchill, then Prime Minister of England, looked at its assets, worked together with a long-term goal to build a thriving, international destination.
They chose theater as the focal point of their master plan, combining all the town’s fundraising entities, i.e. Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions, etc. to eventually build the 2,400-seat George Bernard Shaw theater attracting ticket buyers all year long, filling restaurants, BandBs and boutique shops; all of which now exist in Tryon.
But, first, they converted the local movie theater, vintage Tryon, into a “lunch-time theater,” with audiences lunching before and after an hour-long performance. The courthouse on Main Street became another small performance site, where I trained in a summertime apprenticeship under the tutelage of professors and technical professionals from nearby University of Toronto and Carnegie Tech in Pittsburg.
They started a six- to seven-week summer teaching program, culminating in two summer shows, which was the nucleus of the Courthouse Theater, still thriving after more than 50 years.
Tryon has all and more of these resources: Sunnydale, Tryon Fine Arts Center, Tryon Little Theater, Harmon Field and Rogers Park. So much local talent and small venues are available. The equestrian world brings large spring/fall crowds into the area but the arts can provide a year-long tourism draw if tied together with a common goal, a master plan and united leadership who will tackle a project of this scope.
Tryon could move from “potential ghost town” to a Woodstock, Avon Shakespeare site in North Carolina. Flood the town with flower-filled streets designed by three garden clubs and oodles of master gardeners. Utilize artists, sculptors, musicians, actors and antique dealers who populate this area.
Contact nearby colleges to bring summer apprenticeships in the arts – drama, dance and music – that could charge reasonable tuition to offset their salaries and the cost of renting local properties. Design inexpensive brochures listing all events, prices and dates for distribution to visitors. Find an experienced grant writer to assist in raising funds; we have several.
Ask existing clubs and churches for individual scholarship finds to bring talented youth to the area or support those already here.
It’s worked for NOTL, Brevard and Flat Rock, but we are closer to the market with far better weather.
There are so many exciting ways to prosper this community, but a master plan and calendar are an absolute must, requiring foresight, patience and determination.
– Marianna Blanchard,

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