Any visual or performing arts organization thrives on the shared experience of the artist and the audience – the co-creation of art that occurs when a gift is given and received.

Right now, we are sharing an experience of a very different kind as communities around the world find ways to stay informed and safe in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking forward, I am confident that our discipline at this time will benefit our local, national and world cultures in ways we, most likely, will never be able to measure.

We are fortunate to live in a region where the arts are valued as purveyors of thought-provoking entertainment, as economic engines, and as beacons for societal issues. As with all other businesses and organizations affected by widespread shutdowns, the financial burden on arts organizations will be profound.

As responsible citizens, we will follow government guidelines during this trying time. As artists, we will miss the vibrant and stimulating encounters we have come to rely on to inspire and satisfy our creative imaginations. 

Yet in this time of crisis and uncertainty, artists are finding ways to connect to audiences who need them – from a saxophonist serenading his neighbors from his apartment balcony to social media sites where singers are raising their voices. The arts will always instruct and inspire.

In 1918, as the United States was joining forces in Europe during the first World War, George Cram Cook, a founder of Cape Cod’s Provincetown Players — widely considered to be the nation’s first modern theater company — wrote the following: 

“One faculty is going to be of vast importance to the half-destroyed world — indispensible for its rebuilding: the faculty of creative imagination. That spark of it, which has given this group of ours such life and meaning, is not so insignificant that we should now let it die. That social justification, which we feel to be valid now for makers and players of plays, is that they shall keep alive in the world the light of imagination. Without it, the wreck of the world that was cannot be cleared away and the new world shaped.”

With deep appreciation for everyone who supports the arts, we remain committed to the cultural and artistic vitality of our community and anticipate much great innovation during this time of uncertainty.

After years in Los Angeles as an actor, director, writer and educator, Marc Clopton founded The Actors Studio of Newburyport in 1991, where he is artistic director. The Actors Studio is at 50 Water St., Newburyport, in The Tannery Marketplace. 

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