On a monochrome evening, we descended the steep staircase of an unremarkable building. Humdrum from the exterior, the entrance door to the performance space was a portal into something altogether technicolor, the effect one of stumbling upon a speakeasy populated by bombastic characters of lore. This particular night, the hallway was jammed with the bodies and energies of young dancers and the kith and kin eager to support their creative expressions. As showtime neared, the crowd snagged whatever seats or standing room they could manage. This was not a fancy place, but it reflected the essence of this community.
The Mountain Art Collective is a cadre of artists shepherded by the inspirations and labors of its founding duo. In its infancy, it is a fluid space and concept, devoted to adapting to the desires of the arts community that it seeks to preserve and proliferate. The MAC provides a home for youth and adult dance education, for studio artists, for spectacles and presentations of varied stripe. This is not a vanity project, nor is it a path to ready riches. It is, however, a necessity, a spark, a safe haven, a gift.
The cultural opportunities present in this Valley far outstrip the size of its population. From world-class orchestras, to headlining rock acts, to galleries of Western and modern art, to cosmopolitan dance festivals, we are undoubtedly fortunate to be immersed in high-level artistic endeavors. But, like many facets of our community, there is a larger truth hiding behind the glossy veneer. Many of the aforementioned benefits flow mostly or entirely to the well-heeled and those that pretend to be so.
Fortunately, there is a concerted effort from multiple organizations to attempt to engage all strata in the artistic largesse, whether through free concerts, or subsidized instruction, or otherwise. These efforts at expansion are to be appreciated, both for their intention and execution. But many of these programs are conceived and carried out from above. This is consistent with the course of history, during which practitioners of the arts have been heavily reliant on the support and whims of their benefactors. Consequently, their output has been shaped by the direction of those that supply the ducats.
MAC provides an opportunity to upend this perhaps antiquated model, not as a replacement for the existing programs, but as a critical, homegrown supplement. MAC is a grassroots movement, leveraging not dollars but the immense intellectual and artistic capital with which this Valley is graced. It will nurture the fragile sensibilities of the budding painter, it will incubate an entire new generation of local artists, it will provide organic occasions for mentoring, it will be responsive to whatever it is that we can envision.
As with any fledgling enterprise, MAC is not purely sunshine and roses. There are real challenges to achieving its vision, chief among them the machinations of those for whom money is the only barometer of worth. If we as a Valley are committed to allowing creativity to flourish, then we must censure those who would snuff out the flame of artistic passion for the sake of a few measly dollars. There is nothing more valuable than the shy smile of a four-year-old ballerina, than the confident steps of a middle-school-aged contemporary dancer, than the ecstatic contortions of an aerial yogi.
A visit to MAC sparks the imagination and may motivate you to get involved with MAC, to support it with your attention, your good wishes, and yes, your modest fiscal contributions. If we can encourage a wealthy duke or baroness or count to behold the performers in person and be called to delve into his or her coffers, then all the better.