VOICES: Take a moment to appreciate our arts venues

Editor’s Note: This is part of a monthly series from Rodney Veal that shares insights and stories from artists and creatives from all corners of our community. As the host of ThinkTV/CET Connect for nine years and a lifelong artist in his own right, Veal has a front-row seat to the impact our arts community has on the wellbeing of our region. With this series, Ideas & Voices hopes to inspire readers to pursue their own creative endeavors and to support those who make our community better through their artistic contributions.

One of the added pleasures of being a patron of live performances is the excellent halls and venues to take in performances, spaces specifically crafted to transport audiences into the visceral and compelling performative arts.

No matter the field of study, artists always seek areas that will serve as opportunities to share their artistic endeavors. As a choreographer, the creative process is thrilling and terrifying, a collaborative effort rooted in experimentation, discovery, and fearlessness. We will toil and conjure for weeks, months, and sometimes years to create work worthy of being seen by the public. We seek out and negotiate with presenting venues for spaces that will accommodate our creative visions. Before stepping onto the Board of Dayton Live, I never considered just how critical performance venues are in the creative process.

Credit: Kevin Myers

Credit: Kevin Myers

When we enter the Schuster Center and its epic palm tree-lined great hall, or the Victoria Theatre with its old-world beauty, or the contemporary vibe of the PNC Arts Annex, it is worth considering how space impacts the art-viewing experience. Dayton Live, which maintains and governs these theatrical facilities and the Metropolitans Arts Center, has a staff and crew that diligently works around the clock to ensure that 400,000 guests from over 14 counties have the best possible experiences.

There are many roles that the Dayton Live organization is responsible for. It must diplomatically and efficiently partner with the resident art organizations that utilize its facilities, such as the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance, the Human Race Theatre, DCDC, and Muse Machine. It collaborates with various community organizations like the Dayton Metro Library system and WYSO to present special events and performances that enhance our quality of life. It also programs a series of touring Broadway productions like Hamilton, Frozen: The Musical, and the drama A Soldier’s Play. It presents nationally-renowned comedians, jazz artists, and authors. It provides education opportunities with musical theatre camps for the young people of our community. It collaborates with touring performers like Black Violin and Stepp Afrika to provide curriculum materials for scores of classrooms all over the Miami Valley.

Credit: Kevin Myers

Credit: Kevin Myers

And this only scratches the surface of what they do as a presenting organization.

On top of this incredible workload, Dayton Live and its leadership envision new ways to connect our community to the arts. As a pandemic of unforeseen magnitude shuttered the doors across the globe, no one was sure how we would come out on the other end. We are transitioning out of what has been a genuinely devastating period for creators and are our presenting organizations like Dayton Live. What kept them alive was the hope and light at the end of a terrifying tunnel. That one day, audiences would return for the joy, laughter and engagement that only live performances can provide.

So when you step inside the Schuster to see Ain’t too Proud or sit in the Loft Theatre to see the world premiere of Indigo, produced by the Human Race Theatre Company, take a moment to look around and pause to reflect on what we would have lost as a community had the venues never opened their doors after the pandemic.

And consider how much work has to go into maintaining our theatrical venues and the army of folks needed for that. I am eternally grateful for the dedicated staff and crew who have made our theatrical stages again beacons of light and hope. Dayton Live is the golden frame that allows our artistic jewels to shine.

Rodney Veal is the host of ThinkTV/CET Connect and a member of the Levitt Pavilion Dayton Board of Trustees.

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