To the editor:
On Sept. 10, I witnessed the finest in local politics when the Hancock County Tourism Commission voted to approve the grant request from the Hancock County Visitor’s Bureau to fund the H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts for the coming year.
Though I am not a community member (I, in fact, reside in Indianapolis) and do not pay local taxes as such, I would like to extend a sincere thank-you to the members of this commission for the show of support for one of the finest performing arts venues outside of Indianapolis.
More importantly, their commitment to keeping arts alive in this community is a testimony to the support that Hancock County as a whole gives to its budding artists, be they actors, musicians, painters, dancers or sculptors.
In this age of divisiveness, seeing the diverse members of this board come together in a unanimous decision warms my heart, and I’m sure the hearts of my fellow artists.
In the past 17 years that I have been an adopted community member (as the director of theater at Greenfield-Central High School and occasional performer and director through the Ricks-Weil Theatre Co. and Crazy Lake Acting Co.), I have seen the arts grow exponentially from the old “National Road Players” to the small stage at the former Bread Ladies to Hancock County Children’s Theatre to KidsPlay Inc., to cobbled-together performances at Riley Days.
I have seen my students go from uneasy “Do I hafta?” actors and technicians to performing in New York City, Chicago, Indianapolis and Los Angeles, and know my cohorts in the county have seen the same.
Few communities in central Indiana can boast the current that runs as long and deep as “The Old Swimmin’ Hole” in Riley Park and enjoy the support Hancock County so readily gives to people who want to “press the boards” or “break a leg” as they do here in Greenfield.
I have seen politicians, farmers, carpenters, welders, editors, teachers, wrestling coaches and stay-at-home moms appear on this stage to sold-out houses. To many, these shows have changed their lives. I’m one of them.
I’ve seen countless students fund their college educations through the George and Icy Vaughn Scholarships and other Hancock County Community Foundation Scholarships.
Clearly, the arts are alive and well — and well-supported — in this community. Thank you, Greenfield. Thank you, Hancock County Tourism Commission. Thank you, commission members Earl, Rosalie, Kelly, Sarah, Brandi, Dan and Shirley.
And thank you to the countless supporters of the arts in this community. You have most assuredly made a difference.
Director of theater, Greenfield-Central High School