There's a lot of unseen cultural and arts goodness going on in Greater Nebraska right now. I want to raise it up, and to empower creatives who are looking to make Nebraska their arts home. We want you to stay!
There's much to love about having an arts career in Nebraska. For the majority of the past decade, fortune has provided me an opportunity to work alongside many Nebraska hometowns in the producing and presenting of live (usually theatrical) events along with the development and instillation of personalized curriculum and engagement opportunities. These have been some of the best experiences of my life. Here's some of what I've come to expect from the communities and community members I collaborate with:
Those great qualities and more make Nebraska hometowns a remarkable place to be a working artist and community partner. However, 9 times out of 10, when I speak to artists on the eastern end of the state who desire to work throughout the Great Plains, I hear the same, somewhat misguided sentiment:
"I love working in Greater Nebraska, because they are so starvedfor the arts."
No, no, no, no, nooooooo....
There's never any malice. Just an underdeveloped sense of the true story of Nebraska arts and culture and the remarkable, ground breaking initiatives that communities are embarking on to build rich places to live. Unfortunately, this has been programmed into us as artists: There's never enough, it's all really hard, thank goodness we can serve the "underserved." I don't want anyone to feel beat up about this, rather, to invite each person who feels that way to start seeing the unseen...to start recognizing the treasure of Greater Nebraska and the treasure of Nebraska artists and what a truly collaborative relationship between the two could look like.
I want challenge the existing dialogue...to flip it and reverse it like Missy Elliott...and so I have written a kind of love letter to anyone who feels a deep gut gravitation toward all that is good throughout our state, but isn't sure what that means or how or where to start. Here it goes:
Dear Nebraskan Artists,
We are so lucky that so much talent gravitates back home to Nebraska. Why wouldn't it? These big skies and prairies (that are more like oceans...am I right?) are a perfect place to stay and to create. Our state is affordable, filled with hard working innovators, and is a great place to call home. We give attention to what makes life good here, and collaborate to cultivate it.
Leading the efforts to bring arts to the center of all we do as a society are Nebraska hometowns. Read that again! Nebraska communities are making the arts happen in ways that touch every part of community! These are as much learning places for us as Nebraska artists as they are teaching places. I hope you get a chance to do what you love in Greater Nebraska, and if you have already experienced that, know that the deep appreciation shown for you and for your beautiful work is not the result of community starvation, but rather, collective abundant thinking and enough experience to know when something and someone is worth lifting higher. Here are some things you can have ready to make your partnerships stronger and to raise your game as an arts entrepreneur while doing your part in these co-nutritive relationships:
It's impossible to do in a short blog post all that can be done in terms of uncovering the unseen and co-lifitng arts abundance in Greater Nebraska, but I hope that this love letter to you gives you at least one thing to think deeply about. I want you to feel empowered to see our communities with clear eyes and an open heart. Everything we want and could need is already here. Let's work together to continue to better see it and better work alongside hometowns to serve it.