Commission on the Arts urged to seek 'broader appeal'
For decades, the Commission on the Arts has existed to offer a variety of cultural, visual and performing arts programs -- a four-week Saturday evening concert series in August is a key event -- with broad audience appeal.
Yet some local musicians and business leaders, including a newer commission member, want to broaden the commission's reach and public visibility.
They suggest the commission needs to hire more local talent, including those who play contemporary music likely to appeal to a younger audience than the concerts traditionally attract.
These folks want to help the commission tap into technology so it can attract new talent, and promote all of its programs more efficiently.
He is also the director of the Village Center for the Arts on Main Street.
"Ninety percent of the people in town don't know what we do or what our objective is," Mr. Roberts said. "I'm even a little unclear on it, sometimes.''
Commission chairman Diane Dubreuil countered that the group always prefers to hire local musicians, but to date there have few inquiries.
She said the artists they book also must be suitable for crowds that range from young families to senior citizens. And they must be able to play for up to two hours, she said.
As for no website, Ms. Dubreuil said their meetings are posted in Town Hall and there is a link on the town webpage that lists members and events.
"If we don't know about them (bands or artists), how do we do anything?'' asked Ms. Dubreuil. "We have a fabulous commission of people who are open-minded."
"We will welcome anyone who wants to come and share with us what they have," she added. "I would welcome something different.''
Mr. Roberts said he in no way wants to dismantle the commission's efforts. He just thinks there is more it can, and should, do.
"What has evolved is that we always do what we always do because it's what we have always done,'' he said.
Local musician and promoter Bob Brophy agrees.
A newcomer to New Milford, Mr. Brophy and his band, The Blue Yodels, that features his wife, Felicia Michaels, perform in clubs from Manhattan to New Milford, and they regularly donate their talent for charity events.
Mr. Brophy said he does not wish to be adversarial, but thinks the commission must open its doors wider.
When he started to research how to promote local artist to the commission, Mr. Brophy said he found the organization to be nearly invisible.
"They have no presence. They have no website, no Facebook page. It's 2010,'' said Mr. Brophy, who noted he would volunteer to work with the commission on a website to showcase the local music scene.