Exploring 2018 in a new way

Published 7:01 am Sunday, January 14, 2018

My daughter’s third grade class did a New Year’s resolution exercise in her classroom recently. It was based on the numerals in the year 2018. The students were to write two (2) books to read, one thing to stop doing (0), one (1) new skill to learn and eight (8) ways to be kind to others in 2018. I thought it was an insightful way to approach the new year that is a little more balanced than the traditional new year’s resolutions.

So this week, a riff on that concept taken from the point of view of the Austin Area Commission for the Arts: two (2) ideas to explore, one thing to stop doing (0), one (1) benchmark for success and eight (8) ways to serve the community equals 2018.

Two ideas to explore are both topics that come up in conversations around the community: art in support of mental health and public art. Art is very powerful in supporting mental health from issues of memory loss, surviving trauma, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for veterans and refugees and as a form of self expression for non-verbal children and adults. The AACA will explore what other art centers have done in this area and look to create a demonstration project in the coming years. Many people share with me photos and videos of public art they’ve seen in other communities from murals to flash mobs. The AACA will seek to increase art in public spaces at every opportunity and would love to find partners to share that goal.

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One thing the Austin Area Commission for the Arts vows to stop doing is being too modest. Austin is rapidly gaining a reputation as a leader in the arts in our region because of the rapid growth programming over the last five years and grant awards from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC). Our goal in 2018 is to “own”that recognition and continue to pursue excellence in the region.

One benchmark for success is having a performance sell out at the Paramount Theatre – that’s 622 seats. This is just one way, among many, to measure the success of our organization. But it is safe to say that a sell-out event would mark 2018 as a very good year.

Eight ways the Austin Area Commission for the Arts will serve the community in 2018 are:

No. 1: bring more visitors to the Paramount Theatre, Austin ArtWorks Center and the Austin ArtWorks Festival to boost business for our neighbors.

No. 2: pay more artists by finding new artists to sell one-of-a-kind artwork at the ArtWorks Center.

No. 3: reach more students with our $5 Kids Studio classes on Saturdays—beat our 2017 total of 201 unique students.

No. 4: build our audience for live entertainment at the Paramount Theatre by continuing to book high quality music and comedy that appeals to southeast Minnesota.

No. 5: show off the Paramount Theatre’s amazing atmospheric theater decor to more visitors by welcoming drop-ins on Wednesdays, Thursday and Fridays from noon to 5 p.m.

No. 6: pursue public art options by participating in the City of Austin’s Forecast Public Art process this year.

No. 7: expand diversity as an organization by reaching out to racially/ethnically diverse artists to exhibit in our galleries, at festival and at the ArtWorks Center

No. 8: take joy in our work to harness the power of arts to improve lives.

The Austin Area Commission for the Arts is ready for 2018 with inspiration, focus and goals in mind. With help from our volunteers, patrons and board members, we will make it a great year!

Coming soon at the Paramount Theatre

•Jan. 17: $5 movie, “Ben-Hur,” 7:30 p.m.

•Jan. 24: $5 movie, “A Clockwork Orange,” 7:30 p.m. Adult content, rated R

•Jan. 31: $5 movie, “His Girl Friday,” 7:30 p.m.

Coming soon at the ArtWorks Center

•Jan. 20: $5 Kids Studio, Dragon Puppet, 10:30 a.m.

•Jan. 26: ArtRocks Jam Session, 7:30 p.m.

•Jan. 27: $5 Kids Studio, Winter Watercolor, 10:30 a.m.