by Diane VanDyke
As part of its ongoing advocacy for the arts, Montgomery County Community College celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Lively Arts Series on Saturday, Feb. 4, with a recognition dinner followed by a live performance of world-renowned American jazz pianist and composer Randy Weston.
The College has valued and supported the arts as part of its mission and philosophy since its founding in 1964. Providing not only a “space to create” for students, the College has strived to become a cultural destination in offering a global perspective to the community by presenting artists and performances from a multitude of cultures.
“Montgomery County Community College places a strategic focus on fostering the creative arts. This is evident in our academic programing, diverse cultural performances, distinguished lectures, and our dynamic art galleries. We know that art is a powerful catalyst for change – one that can be used in building communities,” shared College President Dr. Karen A. Stout.
Over the past 25 years, the College, through its Office of Cultural Affairs and Lively Arts Series, has engaged the community in many cultural enrichment and learning opportunities.
During the evening, the College recognized its long-time funding supporter, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA), by presenting a commemorative plaque to PCA Executive Director Philip Horn.
“None of this would be possible without the strong partnership of our funders who share our passion for the arts,” said Dr. Stout. “The Council’s contributions to the quality of life across the Commonwealth – and especially here in Montgomery County – have made a transformational impact on our communities.”
Founded in 1966 and widely recognized as a leader in its field, the PAC provides grants to arts organizations, programs and projects that provide people of all ages with opportunities to participate in the arts in every level. The PCA also operates a statewide network of arts in education organizations to enhance education through the arts for Pennsylvania students.
The College also recognized its other funding partners, including the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Humanities Council, Five County Arts Funds, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, Philadelphia Music Project, Dance Advance Programs of the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, Chamber Music America, the National Dance Project and the William Penn Foundation.
Through the support of these partners, the College has presented season after season of performances in a variety of disciplines of the highest caliber. The College hosted some of the country’s most iconic authors, including Alex Haley, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, Frank McCourt and John Updike, as well as jazz luminaries, such as Ahmad Jamal, McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, Mose Allison and Abbey Lincoln. For dance performances, the Pittsburgh Ballet, Paul Taylor, Philadanco and the Dance Theatre of Harlem, to name a few, have graced the stage of the College’s Science Center Theater.
The College is proud to play a vital role in the community by offering these cultural opportunities and forging partnerships with artists and art organizations throughout the county, state and beyond.
“As an artist myself, an appreciator, collector and cultural advocate, I feel that my job as a presenter is also part of my mission in life—that is, I am concerned about supporting artists and their work most fundamentally. For me that’s where it begins,” said Director of Cultural Affairs Helen Haynes, who has orchestrated the Lively Arts Series for the past 10 years following Director Judith Willoughby.
“Then, I believe in supporting that work in and for the community, finding ways to make the connection between people and institutions and organizations and neighborhoods through the artists’ work. I feel that art is a catalyst for change—social, spiritual, intellectual and economic. Ultimately seeing something born from that interaction be it relationships, personal catharsis, the preservation of something important or a window to learning,” she continued
As part of the 25th Anniversary celebration, Willard Jenkins, co-author of African Rhythms, the Autobiography of Randy Weston, introduced the legendary jazz musician and autographed copies of the book.
For more information about the College’s Lively Arts Series, including a schedule of performances and ticket information, visit www.mc3.edu/livelyarts.