Open Letter to an Art Advocate in Wallingford

I receive your invitation to gather with local arts advocates in Wallingford with mixed feelings. I am frankly exhausted by the Wallingford doublespeak about arts.

As you are aware, there is the Economic Development Council’s WACA initiative’.

Design by Middlesex Community Colege Intern: Michael Humowitz

From our lean college intern resources, we supported WACA outreach in 2020. One intern designed a logo. The gif version of the logo shows a changing color palate to reflect inclusion & diversity within this traditional art image. There were videos produced as well: a long public meeting and a pull-out from the meeting. Recording the meeting was not planned and preceded the work of interns who provided some post-production.

When the logo was sent to the EDC WACA team, the only reply was from the library representative. She said, ‘I love it’. It was later sent to the Social Media Manager for Wallingford Magazine. Again, a positive affirmation. However, Wallingford Mag ran the WACA story without it.

None of the WACA leadership even acknowledged receipt of the logo which left me feeling like I failed the intern who is a Wallingford resident. The intent was for the interns to have portfolio items. All three interns felt I let them down with the assignment to provide WACA support. This left a bad taste, in me, for working with the community people involved. They did complain about the long video which was produced gavel-to-gavel style because it was a public meeting by a quasi-government agency. The pull-out was never used. Our interns were never acknowledged or thanked. We all learned that memorandums of understanding are a critical 1st step to extending services.

WPAA-TV has been the unrecognized arts location in Wallingford since 2015. With public art (mural) by ARCY, a #socialactionart gallery, as a host for theater and award-winning films & animated children’s stories. Our award-winning series MakingIt Artisan$tories also hits a wall locally.

We have been a safe creative place for those who find us since our doors opened in 2010 as intended – to all – after decades of being less than even a traditional public access station. Ironically, I needed to remind the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, and even you, that we are #MoreThanTV. That performance art is the richest kind. That #socialacionart amplifies advocacy.

Examples from this year’s summer youth program. When I Speak Freely and Place Yourself In History

You may recall that I even reminded you, during your mayoral campaign, that we were an arts space. And then, from behind the camera at the WACA gathering of artists, I expressed the same absence of awareness from everyone’s sight. Of note, not one artist in that room, who was previously unfamiliar with WPAA-TV, most of them, made their way to the station.

Frankly, I have not seen much in the way of acting ‘collectively’ among artists even preceding my involvement with WPAA-TV.

And I am struggling with how to say this nicely. Even your invitation to chat fails to acknowledge 10 years of investment in the creation of an art space in Wallingford at WPAA-TV.  Yes, I would love to be part of a thriving creative community. Yes, I would like to envision something bigger. Yes, I will make time, and even space, for conversation. But I will say up front I will not commit to anything that does not fully recognize the past 10 years. Reinventing the wheel is never a good choice. I have a full plate with our arts-full strategic plan. It looks beyond Wallingford for impact because that may be the only way to make an impact.

In 2023, we engaged @Gallery53 artist in Meriden to create a mission mosaic for our outreach. It is in our foyer. The video story is here. On Martin Luther King Day, (Jan 2024) WPAA-TV leadership authorized the naming of the gallery in honor of the fine artist Nelson ‘Carty’ Ford. Nelson Ford would have been 90 on Jan 18th, 2024. Nelson and his wife Ruthie served with Founder (2006) Wilbert ‘Robbie’ Robinson in the minority rights organization Wallingford Coalition for Unity an organization that openly supported the work of WPAA-TV as it sought to find an in-town location.

In honor of his artistry and work with WPAA – TV and Community Media Center.

Original correspondence: As Thanksgiving approached 2021. Updated Jan 2024.

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *