New Nonprofit Puts Spotlight On Local Arts Economy

By: Debra Lawless

Topics: Arts , Economic development

Johnny Bergmann films Andrea Petitto as she demonstrates her art in Orleans. COURTESY PHOTO

“Only connect…” the novelist E.M. Forster famously wrote in 1910.

ArtsLight, a new nonprofit endeavor spawned by the nonprofit Lower Cape TV dedicated to giving a voice to the local creative economy, aims to do just that.

“In a world where information seems evermore scattered and suspect, we need to trust in ourselves and in connections that go deeper and create lasting bonds that transcend surface noise,” Teresa Martin, executive director of Lower Cape TV, said in an email interview. “The arts—and our conversation about them and the people involved in them—provide a bridge for these connections.”

A launch party to celebrate ArtsLight’s new website and newsletter will be held this Saturday, Jan. 11 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Addison Art Gallery in Orleans. On hand will be reporter and videographer Johnny Bergmann of Lower Cape TV, the driving force behind the multi-media endeavor. Award-winning artists Maryalice Eizenberg, Andrea Petitto and Amy Sanders will demonstrate their crafts; Sarah Burrill will sing and play the guitar. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be provided by Mary’s Fine Provisions. A raffle will be held with prizes that will likely bring you closer to the arts community. They are a $250 gift certificate for the Addison Art Gallery; “Art in Narrow Streets” by Ross Moffett; a live figure painting session at Schulenburg Studios; two tickets to Wellfleet Preservation Hall; four lawn tickets to Pops by the Sea; a $50 Land Ho! gift certificate; a $140 class at the Chatham Creative Arts Center; a gift certificate to the Rock Harbor Grill; a $60 family membership at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod; and a $50 gift certificate toward classes or art items at the Cape Cod Art Center.

“Connecting the community is critical,” Martin says. “If we don’t tell our stories, no one else will. Sharing those stories helps us connect, and by connecting we strengthen and sustain our communities.”

ArtsLight began in 2019 with a series of Portraits of Cape Artists by Bergmann. The website now includes video highlights, a creative economy calendar and additional reporting and resources that will expand as time goes on. The monthly online newsletter is free and can be subscribed to by mailing info@lowercapetv.org or editor@lowercapetv.org.

We often hear about the role of the tourist economy, for example, on the Cape. But the creative economy “plays a bigger role than we often see on the surface,” Martin says. “It plays an historical role… and as forces such as climate and sharks impact some sectors, growing this sector becomes increasingly important.”

She adds that the value of the creative economy will likely increase.

Visit the ArtsLight home page (www.artslight.org) and you’ll see a 5:15-minute video spotlighting raku potter Diane Heart. Scroll down, and you’ll find three new videos produced in December—“Merry (Cape Cod) Tuba Christmas,” “Digney Fignus and His Band” and “Create Greenery Scenery for the Holidays.” In this 8:35-minute video Chatham floral designer Sonny Gada shares how to create holiday arrangements. The video was filmed at Stony Hill Exchange in Chatham, where Gada has his floral shop. By scrolling down, you can click through a wealth of videos of additional artists. The Halloween presentation of “The Chatham Ghost” in Kate Gould Park is archived here, as is an interview with Naomi Turner of Chatham and Wilderness Sarchild of Brewster called “Wrinkles Playwrights Share the Power of Empowerment.” The 5:30-minute video includes outtakes from the musical “Wrinkles.”

“We kept hearing that people knew there was a creative economy but didn’t really know what ‘it’ was,” Martin says. “Or they might find info about what to do on a Saturday night, but were curious about the people behind the events. Who are the artists? What does it mean to do creative work?”

Here are the artists, shown in short-form video. Lower Cape TV also has a mobile app that is available for free on both Apple and Google app stores.

At the bottom of the home page is a community calendar with 14 entries so far in January for live music, a poetry review with an open mic and even a talk by the executive director of the Association to Preserve Cape Cod.

The ArtsLight community includes artists of all stripes, visual and performing.

“It also includes a whole host of professions and activities that all involved human invention and creative action,” Martin says. “We can’t celebrate, share and help grow our creative economy unless we have a place to tell the stories and meet the people within it. By building this awareness, visibility and interest, ArtsLight lays the path for connecting us all with the creative economy.”

The inaugural ArtsLight advisory board includes two gallery owners in our area—Helen Addison of the Addison Art Gallery and Joe Porcari of the Artful Hand Gallery in Chatham.

For more information visit addisonart.com.