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Column: To exist in the midst of exceptional creativity is a gift…

To exist in the midst of exceptional creativity is a gift. To abstain, especially in difficult times, seems downright criminal!

By Stuart Adelberg

I have some advice to share. No one has asked for it, but as my son will tell you, I have never felt compelled in the past to wait for an invitation, so why should I start now! I know you’re waiting, so here it comes. Turn off the TV, step away from the computer, put down the smartphone – and head to a theater, a concert hall, a museum, or a library – as quickly as you can! Trust me – we need this!

Though I know it won’t publish for a few days, I am writing this as a holiday weekend is about to begin. My office is quiet, and everyone seems more than ready for a few days of R and R. Even the streets are quiet, as some people have yet to return from summer vacations. And yet, even on this calm, sunny, lazy summer day, there is an undercurrent of tension – an uneasy feeling that has seeped into every aspect of our being. Some days it seems stronger than others, but it has been present for quite some time. Politics, the pandemic, the economy, climate change, and countless other issues have literally and figuratively consumed us. Everyday seems to bring a new reason for outrage, concern, or just nagging dissatisfaction and we seem incapable of turning it off.

The tension we all feel is real and let’s face it – the issues that worry us are truly worthy of our attention. But it is too easy to let these issues and the feelings they evoke take over our lives twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. There are many people in many other parts of the world who don’t have a choice, but fortunately, we do!

We are blessed to live in a nation, a region, and a community with an abundance of extraordinary arts and cultural institutions and offerings. Every one of them exists to take us away from these everyday concerns, to inspire us with limitless artistic possibilities, to touch us with beauty that delights each of our senses, to transport us with stories that challenge our hearts and our minds. To exist, as we do, in the midst of this exceptional creativity is a gift. To abstain, especially in difficult times, seems downright criminal.

I don’t need to remind anyone of the interminable period when a relentless pandemic kept us away from movies, concerts, theatrical performances, museums, libraries and other cherished artistic and cultural gathering spaces. We should all be grateful for the organizations that survived and are now up and running, eager to welcome us back, enthusiastically ready to fill that terrible void and inspire us once more.

I promise you that the world’s very real problems will be waiting for you when the movie credits start to roll. There will plenty of reason for outrage at the conclusion of the symphony. There will sadly be strife in the world after the actors take their final bow and politicians will certainly still be arguing when you finish reading that epilogue. But maybe your perspective will be a little different, perhaps your heart and mind will be a little more open. It’s conceivable that the tension and dissatisfaction will be tempered by the hour or two of creative inspiration you’ve just experienced. You never know, but you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. And when you feel a little better, which I know that you will, you can thank me for the good advice!

Stuart Adelberg is the Executive Director of the Avon Theatre Film Center, a non-profit, community supported independent cinema in downtown Stamford. Stuart has a long history of leadership and involvement in the region’s arts and human services communities.

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