A few months ago, the Wenatchee valley hosted a TEDx conference focusing on ways we can build a stronger community by collaboration or "connecting the dots."
That theme has resonated deeply with a diverse group of leaders in the community who have come to appreciate that we are better off finding collaborative solutions to our challenges than making decisions in silos.
The latest example of "connecting the dots" thinking comes from the leadership of the Numerica Performing Arts Center. Executive Director Matt Cadman said that he and the board are passionate about the center's ability to transform the community through the arts.
Think about that statement. They view the arts not as something to present but instead as a catalyst for building a stronger, more resilient community. I love this kind of whole community thinking because it speaks to a broader sense of purpose. They want to build community by inspiring and entertaining and we should all applaud that commitment.
They have already started to walk the talk by introducing shows that appeal to a diversity of people who live here. Cadman has an audacious goal of having every person in the region visit the performing arts center for at least one show.
One way they are reaching out to broaden their audience is by starting a Latino advisory board to find approaches and programs that appeal to that significant part of our community. That's smart thinking and it reflects the desire to develop one community where today we largely have two communities — an Anglo community and a Latino one.
This next season, they will host Sebastian de la Cruz, a Latino teen phenom who played at the Mariachi Festival in Wenatchee last year. This is a good start to diversifying the audience.
Cadman and the board are also targeting even more youth programs. This coming year, they will launch "Stage Kids," an after-school enrichment program that will create opportunities for kids to develop their performance skills.
"My life has been changed by the arts," says Cadman. Spreading that approach throughout the community — beginning with kids and Latinos — is a "moral imperative," he added.
Here's another connecting the dots approach they are using.. Cadman and the board are having discussions with other performing arts venues in the region to talk about ways to collaborate. Cadman sees the potential to create cultural tourism to the extent that tours might come here and spend an evening at the Merc Playhouse in Twisp, take a concert at Snowy Owl in Leavenworth and perhaps catch a show at the Gorge Amphitheater.
Again and again, finding ways to work together proves to be far more successful than the old approach of everyone going it alone and viewing other venues as merely competition.
Hats off to Cadman and the board for their leadership.