Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The 2006 Top 10 Arts and Culture events in Venango County

Tis the season for year end lists, so lest I be left off the bandwagon, I give my completely impartial 2006 Top 10 Arts and Culture events in Venango County in 2006:

Venango Campus Film Series – If there’s a hidden arts and culture secret in Venanago County, it’s this film series. The fall brought us Everything is Illuminated, Water, Tsotsi, Paperclips, Vozvrashcheniye, to name just a few, all free, all open to the public, all at the Rhoades Center Auditorium. I am waiting anxiously to see what the spring lineup will be.

2. JoAnn Wheeler – Funding controversy aside, Arts Champion Joann has brought a breath of fresh air to the region (although, yes, I understand her work is primarily in Oil City, what’s good for the OC is good for the region). Although I still think her job is full time no matter what the description says, she’s stepped up to the plate repeatedly in a very short time.

3. Silver Cornet Anniversary
Once upon a time, every town in America, large and small, boasted a band of its own. In one small Northwest Pennsylvania town, those days still live on. This is the story of the Franklin Silver Cornet Band, the men and women who have filled its ranks, and the town that has been its home for 150 years
What do they do right? Everything. Although I’ll admit that I don’t sit around listening to the genre at home, the SCB understands that they are a community band. Their anniversary this year saw a contest to design a commemorative pin, a community wide party in Franklin’s downtown park ,and the publication of Pete Greene’s history of the band, Musical Service

4. DeBence’s museums mini lecture series – another overlooked gem. Debence brought us informative, entertaining lectures of nickelodeons, music boxes, fairground organs, bringing guests speakers from as far away as New Philadelphia OH and as close as our own Nancy Simpson. A request though: please post the 2007 schedule on your web site.

5. Theatre in the Little Theatre (TiLT) Yes I help out with the plays, so I might (OK am) biased. But TiLT is the perfect sort of theatre for those us not so much into musicals. For no more than five bucks you can see cutting edge plays; gothic tales like The Weir and hilariously funny pieces like Art while sipping a beer or drinking a glass of wine (please, though, can’t we get some local products in there? Wouldn’t it be nicer to drink a Wilhelm winery red or a Four Sons Brewing Pale Ale, rather than Franzia and Coors Light? Yes, yes it would.).

6. Presbyterian Shows – Every couple of years there is an explosion of local DIY shows in our area/ There were the VFW shows in Franklin, the Victory Township Hall shows out on South Route 8 and even, when the Chumpire guy was teaching in Conneaut Lake, a couple of pretty hot punk shows in downtown Oil City. In that proud tradition, The RickDan Band has started a series of shows at the Franklin Presbyterian Church. Good work guys, now, keep up the good work and avoid all the pitfalls of a scene – infighting and insularity. Leave the place in better shape than you found it, and in a decade, old guys like me will be looking back at your DIY fervor with a good old days smile

7. Carmen Jones – Yes, I too heard the rumors that a lot of the audience left at intermission, and yes I would have liked to have seen a more opera-y opera, but it was risky move on the part of John McConnell and the Barrow to bring in a show that was promoted as being opera. Beyond that, establishing a regional partnership with a flagship company like the Opera Theatre Pittsburgh is a pure genius move for the area. Let’s hope we can get the Ring Cycle in 2009. Even if I would be the only one there.

8. Franklin On Ice – Franklin’s most underrated festival. Period. Lately it’s been slipping a bit in quality – (“Aren’t these the same exact sculptures as last year?”), but it brings back a bit of happiness during what (in pre-global warming days at least) is the last gasp of a long cold winter – a request here though – bring back the old fire and ice theme – nothing says family fun like wagon rides, ice sculpting combined with chili contests lining the street.

9. Venango County Symphony - What's not to love - beautiful music, shows short enough to bring children to and begin to expose them a larger world, and an admission price by donation.

10. Ed Ramage's chamber of Commerce mural in Franklin -- For a long time, Franklin has been looking for a marketing hook - we're the bike trail city, no the Victorian city, we're festival town USA. All that's fine, but nothing is as nice as pulling into a town and seeing that combination of art and ground level history that murals do so well. The fact that that artist lives in the area and is a leading unsung resource makes his work all the more sweeter.

The top 6 arts and culture events I'm hoping for next year:(and yes, I’d be glad to help with any of these, thanks for asking).

1. Shakespeare in the Park comes back to Franklin
2. an all-ages no smoking venue opens that actively books shows, both local and touring
3. a CD compilation of local artists
4. a healthy and growing Oil City theatre group
5. more networking among regional artists
6. a Venango gift Basket available year round


Joann said...

Thanks for the kind words, Michael!! If I published a "best of" list, this blog and its author would be right up there on it, too!

Dittman said...

You're too kind - I owe you and Troy Wood emails - I just realized that you two were, unknown to me, placed on my hotmail junk list.
Happy holidays!