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.
As a working artist, you always remember your first lucky break.
It was the fall of 1989 and I was working as a mechanical storage clerk for the Department of Transportation — a backstory destined for the memoirs. I was a year out of college and was still determining if I would ever find a pathway into the arts. I danced in college and never considered the possibility of being a professional dancer and artist.
I was taking an adult ballet class offered by the Dayton Ballet school, taught by the incomparable Bess Saylor-Imber. This was the kind of class filled with mostly women who had stepped from dance as a possible career and went to work and raise families and had never given up their love of an excellent ballet class. She saw something in me that I could not see: Potential. She recommended me to the director of the second company of Dayton Ballet, a pre-professional training program. Most ballets have these training programs across the country, and at the time, a shortage of men made me an ideal candidate. This opportunity was ground zero for the blessings of my life in the arts in Dayton.
Because I entered into the performing realm as an adult, I tend to always appreciate the classroom and studios as the true catalyst of the creative sparks that for lack of a better term, where the true magic happens. I am constantly in awe of artistry in its final form: Polished dancers, musicians, and actors who have put in hours and blood, sweat, and tears in rehearsal halls and dance studios.
With a career schedule not for the faint of heart, I agreed to lend my time, energy, and talents to what I describe as the “dream factory of the arts.” I have the honor of being co-chair this year for the Wright State ArtsGala. Wright State University has state-of-the-art educational facilities with dedicated faculty and staff helping to foster and nourish the next generation of artists and creators.
As in my case over three decades ago, I know that having access to training can be life-changing. As co-chair of this fundraiser, ensuring that Wright State University can provide financial assistance through scholarships to the next generation of dancers, filmmakers, artists, musicians and technicians struck a personal chord.
Credit: © Wright State University Photo
Credit: © Wright State University Photo
Over many decades, Wright State has produced its fair share of Oscar (Steve Bognar, Julia Reichart, Hannah Beachler) and Tony (Joey Monda) winners and nominees, but most importantly has provided a steady stream of working artists who ply their craft in so many spaces across this country and indeed the world. The influence and reach of their graduates is unheard of for a school located in the Midwest.
In a few weeks, we are putting on a fundraiser event that, at its core, is beyond the glitz and opportunity for dressing up. This a chance to come together to ensure that scholarships are available to those who burn bright with potential and talent but need validation and, quite frankly, a way to ease the burden of rising higher education costs.
Every time we met as a host committee to plan this event, we were privileged to meet scholarship recipients and witness their talents in mini showcases. They shared from the heart the impact the scholarships have had on their training. These scholarships turn their dreams into reality and make it possible to reach for the stars. Now is your chance to witness their talents and purchase a ticket, prepared to be inspired. Learn more at wright.edu/artsgala.
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