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Since January 2006 the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission (NCAC) members have made connections between generous donors and recipients in the community.
“Since NCAC was created, one of our responsibilities is to help facilitate arts and arts-related and cultural activities in the town,” said NCAC Secretary Robert Rabinowitz. A donation of music equipment, for example, could go to a school music department, or a public address system could go to a municipal building and benefit anyone in the community who needs it, he explained.
Support and contributions are critical. “The NCAC relies on support and donations from businesses and individual donors in order to fund activities such as the annual arts festival, concerts, events, workshops, classes and activities,” Mr Rabinowitz said. The commission — all volunteers — must also cover costs of venues, performers and costs associated with events, he said. “Our ability to fund scholarships, grants and other activities can only continue if we bring in more from our activities than we spend on them. Every donation, no matter what the amount, helps enormously.”
The NCAC’s outreach spiked following 12/14.
At that time the arts commission established Healing Newtown, which became a depot for the many contributions and the programming that flooded Newtown.
“We were tasked by the town to coordinate and manage and caretake and be the custodian for all arts donations,” Mr Rabinowitz said. Healing Newtown had occupied a storefront near Caraluzzi’s Market on Queen Street.
“Even though we no longer have Healing Newtown, the mission never went away,” Mr Rabinowitz said. That, and their original mission, is “all under title of NCAC.”
Mentioning some contributions, Mr Rabinowitz described “one recent donation that stands out,” he said. The NCAC received $1,000 from Praxair for its scholarship fund.
Annually, the NCAC gives scholarships to two graduating high school seniors planning a career in the arts. The funding for the scholarships also comes from money raised at the Newtown Arts Festival, he said.
The festival relies on sponsors, he said. “We never know how much will come in at the gate, how many people will attend.”
He said that this year’s festival, to be conducted September 17 and 18, “will have a donation box at the door asking people to donate money to our scholarships and grants programs. Every single penny donated goes to those funds.”
During a recent NCAC meeting mention was made of the many equipment donations the group has facilitated. “Most of these came about when we were reaching out to various companies — some of whom have supported us in the past — to see if they would be able to be a financial sponsor of [the arts festival] this year.”
Donations include a sound system/PA from Samson Technologies to Edmond Town Hall, which the NCAC arranged.
The system can be used for any events, Mr Rabinowitz said. He believes the donation will “help the town by providing tools to enhance various events and to make those events easier.”
Another donation is of music books and scores from Alfred Publishing, and additional music books and scores from Carl Fisher Music for the Newtown school district.
“I am particularly pleased with scores, published music scores,” Mr Rabinowitz said. “The complete orchestra score, plus all the parts to the Trans Siberian Orchestra’s winter show, and a lot of choral music with copies of each” will greatly benefit students and audiences, he said.
“I love the idea that some of this music will be used over the years and people will come and see a performance and hear some music because a nice company donated it to the town,” he said.
The NCAC has also received music equipment and instruments for the marching band.
The school system’s arts may struggle, he said. “If we help supply some things, then more money” in the school budget can be spent elsewhere. “Most kids won’t own a baritone [saxophone] or a tuba, so if we can save schools some money on other items,” then the NCAC efforts are beneficial, he said.
The ordinance for the creation of the NCAC is on the town’s website under “Boards & Commissions” newtown-ct.gov/Public_Documents/NewtownCT_BComm/CulturalArts. The ordnance states, “The purpose of the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission shall be to stimulate, facilitate, coordinate and cooperate with existing organizations for the development of the arts. It shall serve as an information center and focal point in the community for activities in the arts.”
Another section states, “To accept gifts, contributions and bequests of funds from individuals, foundations, companies, corporations and other organizations for the purpose of furthering the objectives of The Newtown Cultural Arts Commission, subject to a Resolution entitled Cultural Arts Commission Gift Fund.”
The approximate retail value of the merchandise donated this year — about $22,500 — is as follows:
NCAC has arranged for a donation of a lectern with built-in sound system from AmpliVox for use at The Newtown Municipal Center; reeds, strings, blank music books and percussion equipment from D’Addario for the Newtown school district; water and ice tea from Nestle for The Newtown Arts Festival; music books and scores from Alfred Publishing for the Newtown school district; music books and scores from Carl Fisher Music for the Newtown school district; percussion mallets and drum sticks from the Vic Firth Company for the Nighthawks Marching Band and NHS bands; a full-sized Casio digital piano to the Computer Music Lab at Newtown High School; Jazz Books from Jamey Abersold Publishing for use at NHS; 40 instrument tuners from KLIQ for the Newtown school district; upgrade to the Spectrasonics software in use at the NHS Computer Music Lab; an electric bass guitar from Michael Tobias for the Newtown High School Band and Jazz Band; 50 Harmony soprano recorders from West Music, which will be used at the Newtown Arts Festival; and 18 electric guitars from Goldfish Guitars for use at the arts festival and other events.