2013-09-05 / News

Island needs a place suited for music

By A.O. Gutierrez

Jamestown is fortunate to be the home of many performing arts organizations. The Jamestown Community Chorus was founded 1949 by Mrs. Rita Murray as a project of the Exchange of Topics and Crafts Club. In 1990, Mary Wright and Patricia Vandal started the community theater to provide an outlet that would afford the island’s children the opportunity to work alongside adults in a creative enterprise. The formation of the community band in 1993 to replace a tape recorder playing marches in the Memorial Day parade resurrected a tradition of island instrumental groups dating back to 1913. The Jamestown Community Piano Association unveiled a Schimmel 7-foot grand piano in late 2001 providing a fine instrument for local recitals and enabling performances by toprank visiting musicians.

These organizations have engendered smaller ensembles such as the Accidental Sisters, Summer- Song and Très Moutarde, which provides different styles of more intimate types of music than can be realized by the larger groups.

Over the years, these groups have performed, for the most part, at the local churches, library and recreation center. The opening of the Jamestown Arts Center has created another space for performances in what was a marine services facility. While these venues have provided space for performers and audiences for many years, none was designed primarily with the requirements of vocal, theatrical or musical performance as their primary purpose. I feel that all these organizations and the broader community will be well served by considering the inclusion of a performing arts center in the plans for the new construction at the Jamestown Golf Course.

Properly designed, such a facility can fulfill the requirements for meeting and activity rooms, as well as provide the basis for a modest conference center while providing a theater better suited to the needs of all the groups mentioned above and provide an attractive venue for smaller touring shows.

A public/private endeavor similar to the campaign that funded the renovation of the facade and grounds at the recreation center several years ago could make such a center a reality. The rebuilding of the golf-course facility presents an opportunity to build a dedicated performing arts center that may not occur again for many years. Anyone interested in more information about this effort is encouraged to contact jamestownper formingarts@cox.net.

The author is an 18-year resident of Jamestown who served on Friends of the Library board of directors. He has been involved with the community chorus and theater, and is currently a member of SummerSong.

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