Letter: Bring Aspen culture to Willits
Basalt Town Council,
A simple appeal to ask, please consider approving the Arts Center at Willits.
The center is a place — a potential place — in the midvalley where you and I can see a great movie, take a cooking class, see an art lecture, see live music, see a play, host an event, have a wedding, throw a party (more info at http://www.tacaw.org) and the great part — the money and the location is already earmarked for it! I mean, how could we lose?
Whether we as a community like it or not, our very existence is based intrinsically upon the ground which Aspen has laid. We are here, as a subdivision, if you will, from the Aspen of the ’60s and ’70s. Aspen at its core is an hedonistic artist community — the fertile ground from which the art institute, physics institute, the music school, the art museum and the ballet school are all sprung. It’s that artsy, hippy-dippy notion from which this valley, and us, the downvalley folk, have elevated ourselves from more than just the average U.S. redneck hillbillies and average U.S. Mall of America types. It’s the artist backbone that makes this valley special, that breaks apart from small-town Anywhere, USA.
The skiing might have been why they came, but the art is why they stayed.
Why then would we ever turn a blind eye from something as innovative, ingenious and necessary as the Arts Center at Willits? Aren’t us downvalley types always talking about how awful that upvalley drive is? How great would it be in the height of the Aspen holiday scene to see a FilmFest Academy screening at Willits? How much would you love to see music or take a cooking class downvalley? Or that play you really want to see but it’s only in Aspen? What if the Arts Center at Willits could bring the best of Aspen down to the midvalley? Perhaps what we are missing in the midvalley is what we strove to create for ourselves in Aspen all those years ago? Perhaps we can make for ourselves in Willits what we strove to make for ourselves Aspen before the movie stars, millionaires and then billionaires moved us out. Why are we fighting this?
The Arts Center at Willits is a fantastic opportunity to bring what is the essential of Aspen to the midvalley. Ryan Honey (who has been hired to helm this project) is the real deal, coming from the Los Angeles nonprofit world and a sincere enthusiast of the art and theater world; everything is positioned to make this project that thing that changes Willits from a place you get your groceries to a place you want to go spend time.
Of course, this is all mixed up in Basalt politics, which I will chose not to comment on. I will say I wonder if for a minute we could quiet ourselves and listen to the quiet tapping of opportunity knocking on our door.
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