Golden rays of late afternoon light shine down on laughing faces as music permeates the air of the first springtime concert. A hushed moment with a painting, pondering the brushstrokes. Clad in costumes, excited children ready for their curtain call, while eager parents await with iPhones charged and poised for pictures. The humanities intertwine with our lives, adding flavor, substance, connection, and sustenance for growth.
In Jackson Hole, Off Square Theatre Company (Wyoming’s only year-round, professional theater company!) shares their dramatic flair for the arts. Acting classes provide creative spaces for thespians from all over to learn and grow together, and large and small scale productions offer upbeat or thought-provoking entertainment to their community, giving people a chance to get outside of the home and connect.
“At Off Square Theatre we are focused on catalyzing connection - connections between generations, connections between perspectives, connections with audience and neighbors, and connections with artists all across our country,” says Natalia Duncan Macker, Artistic Director for Off Square Theatre. “We believe the arts - and especially theatre - are critical for helping the next generation develop as human beings, so we focus on fostering creative, empathetic leaders ready to tackle a very complicated 21st century. We also know that while we may be virtually connected literally all the time, our contemporary life has created a lot of isolation. Many circumstances compound this for communities, families and people in Wyoming. Thus, for us, we are here to entertain, to inspire, to challenge, and to have fun.”
Three hours from the Tetons in Lander, locals harness the power of the performing arts through Lander Presents, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing music concerts, films, and live events to the foothills of the Wind River Range. Lander Presents believes that the arts feed the soul – and they foster this nourishment by providing a space to share in and celebrate the arts, which can be hard to find in the rural landscape of Wyoming.
Bringing the arts, humanities, and culture to all corners of our wide and wild state is Wyoming PBS. “We describe our mission of service to the people of Wyoming as ‘Telling Wyoming’s Stories’,” explains Terry Dugas, General Manager of Wyoming PBS. Through sharing and connecting people with new or similar ideas, and providing exposure and support to emerging artists or creators, Wyoming PBS believes the arts and humanities are the key to thriving communities.
“As Pope John Paul II wrote, ‘Humanity looks to works of art to shed light upon its path and its destiny.’ This is true for the study of humanities as well. Elevating the human spirit should be a goal of every Wyoming citizen. But the arts and humanities are more than paths to personal growth. They are paths to economic growth,” says Dugas. “The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the arts and culture sector contributed $1.2 billion to Wyoming's economy in 2019. More importantly, companies seeking to relocate want a vibrant culture to entice employees.”
“The arts open doors – for connection, for discovery, for learning and growth, and for preserving memory – ingredients for a healthy, flourishing culture,” says Molly Hughes, Executive Director of the Hughes Charitable Foundation. “We are delighted to support creative organizations and outlets in Wyoming that promote the arts, and in doing so, protect and nourish the unique, wild spirit of this western state.”
So let’s celebrate the humanities, and all the wonderful good they bring to Wyoming! Enroll in a drawing class, bring your child to see their first play, or meet your friends at a local outdoor concert – share in the arts, spread culture, and watch our state thrive!