ArtsLight began in community conversation. In our listening tours, we heard two consistent gaps on Lower Cape Cod: local news and local arts. Major market media outlets in Boston report on the region from the perspective of second home owners and vacationers – but the Cape is also a year-round region with more than beaches and tourism.
The creative economy, including its supply and distribution chain, has long played a role in the economy. Artists of all stripes were people who lived, worked and became part of the weave of the community. But about two years ago, we started hearing that art had become something for visitors and the wealthy, that creative work and workers weren’t welcomed and that the creative economy was just some words.
Storytelling provides the great link that brings us together. ArtsLight “shines a light” on the many different types of people and creative practice that contribute to this vital part of our region. We do this through compelling and accessible story telling in video and digital form, and we combine the storytelling with real-time events and connection activities. When we see and hear the voices, the people and their actions come to life and let us connect with each other.
We began in baby steps, first by working with a local filmmaker to create a series of profiles under 10 minutes, Portraits of Cape Artists. The strong response compelled us to do more. In 2019, we formed an advisory board representing individuals and organizations from various sections of the creative sector to help think through topics and issues to share. We added more video storytelling.
In mid-2019, we launched artslight.org. Last January, we rolled out a monthly ArtsLight email push newsletter. We had plans for a number of real-time events this summer, but COVID changed that. We responded instead with a series on Artists in Isolation, in which creative people shared how the pandemic changed their work, artistic vision and means of earning a living.
ArtsLight as an initiative remains a work in progress. It is not a one off done-and-gone effort. It has produced strong content to date, but its real strength lies in triggering conversations and connections from creative sector, to year round resident, to seasonal visitors – and those connections build common ground to help transcend the many divisions of the world.