One of my oldest memories is of my parents waking me up shortly after putting me to bed, whispering for me to get dressed and sneaking me out past my sleeping younger siblings, left at home with a sitter, to join them for a production of “The King & I.”
I was barely 5.
I got the bug. Not to perform, as both my father and my elder son do, but to become a lifelong lover of the arts.
At different points in my life, that’s meant majoring in English literature, volunteering at a major books festival, serving on the board of a contemporary art museum, carting “merch” for a singer-songwriter boyfriend, working as a music writer and theater critic, and hawking 50/50 tickets as a theater mom.
It also meant making time to write and publish some poetry.
Which is why when we launched Open Call in April 2021, it quickly became one of my favorite parts of each workweek.
As arts and cultural organizations began to pivot slowly from virtual and socially distant/outdoor-only events, we raised the curtain on this column to give artists, as well as arts and cultural organizations, across Delaware a chance to be heard.
The idea was to offer Delaware’s many and diverse groups a stage from which to share with the community, in their own voices and photos, their roadmaps as they emerged from the worst of the pandemic.
There was a sense of relief and excitement, but also a ‘’brave new world’’ element and plenty of unknowns as we moved ahead together to navigate the next stages of the COVID-19 crisis. And while the world has opened up significantly since those early months, the “brave new world” part is still true.
With a new submission every Sunday, Open Call is a great place to get the word out about Delaware’s many exciting cultural offerings – theater, concert, ballet and opera seasons; exhibits and installations; new classes and programs and even new groups just finding their footing.
The leaders of dozens of the First State’s arts and cultural institutions have taken us up on our offer, crafting columns that shared their programming highlights with audiences throughout our region.
But Open Call is so much more than a series of event announcements.
The columns we offer weekly in this space continue to delve into some of the most crucial issues of our time – multicultural, racial, LGBTQ, accessibility and social justice issues; the mental health and substance abuse crises; the emotional and practical fallout of a global pandemic; the role cultural groups play in offsetting a reduction in arts education in the public school system; the need for Delaware’s cultural groups to think outside the box on programming and embrace collaboration to thrive, and to pass a sustainable legacy onto the next generation.
It is gratifying to play even a small role in supporting Delaware’s cultural institutions as they work to become more inclusive, more sustainable and better positioned to serve a broader audience.
As the New Audience Editor of this news organization, it also helps me and my newsroom peers better understand the people of Delaware as we work hard to engage those audiences better, too.
It may be corny, but to draw from “The King & I,” it’s wonderful getting to know all about you.
We call this column Open Call in the spirit of inclusion, after all.
And so we continue to welcome Delaware cultural organizations, established and new, big and not-so-big, to accept our invitation to take command of the Open Call stage and tell us what’s on your mind, whether that be an exciting new series, a world premiere, an avant-garde offering, a major institutional challenge, a fresh collaboration, an outside-the-box initiative, a shift in mission or something else entirely.
I was still wearing footsie pajamas when I learned the role the arts could play in making life more exciting, meaningful and fun.
It didn’t take long for me to sense that it was also necessary for me to nurture those experiences in order to learn and grow as a human being.
Immersing yourself in the arts does not have to be as elaborate as a last-minute surprise trip to a Broadway musical, either. It can be jotting down a few words that begin to take the shape of a poem. Pausing in front of a musician busking on the sidewalk, and really listening. Signing up for an art class and trying your hand at something you never thought you’d learn. (Take note: My dad’s acting career began in his 70s).
As we move into the second half of the 2022-23 arts season, we want to send out the call to groups who have yet to write an Open Call. We want to hear from you and are happy to send you the parameters for submitting a column soon.
And to all, we send our best wishes for happy holidays and healthy, joyful and inspiring new year!
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