Doug: Here we are again, the Great River Guys! We hope you liked our first conversation last week, but if you missed it I am Doug Scholz-Carlson-
Lee: And I am Lee Gundersheimer,
Doug: And we have two unwieldy names.
Lee: We are the new executive team heading your Great River Shakespeare Festival.
Doug: And the nice folks at the Post have invited us to talk about the Festival and any and all things arts and cultural here in Winona.
Lee: So the first thing we wanted to say was congratulations to Vivian Fusillo for her final production of Peter Pan at Winona State University.
Doug: As you may have heard, Vivian is ďgraduatingĒ as she likes to call retirement from WSU after 45 years of mentoring young artists and directing 111 shows. Our community is all the richer for her dedication and devotion to the arts.
Lee: Thank you, Vivian. You are an inspiration to us all.
Doug: And last week we mentioned that we wanted to talk about how wonderful it is that Winona, which has such an established reputation as an industrial and manufacturing center, is now also becoming know as the City of Festivals and a true Arts Destination. Even the Rochester Post-Bulletin called Winona the ď...regionís arts mecca.Ē
Lee: Yes, and a week ago there was an article in the Post about how tourism and the arts are considered on the rise and that some statistics show that manufacturing in town is on a slight decline.
Doug: And this generated a lot of letters and discussion.
Lee: Great, now that we brought it up, it is going to upset people all over again.
Doug: Actually that is why we are bringing it up-
Lee: To rile people one more time?
Doug: No because we wanted to underline a very important point-
Lee: One that was brought up at the end of that article, but many folks donít make it to the end-
Doug: Right, so stop interrupting so we can say it quicker-
Doug: What seems important to us is that statistics donít tell the whole story, no matter whose you use. What is most important is that there is a thriving opportunity for both sectors, for both the arts and industry to grow.
Lee: Youíre right. The arts canít exist without a healthy economy; no one can afford to attend or support them-
Doug: And the arts contribute to economic growth. The arts drive traffic into town and businesses; we help create a quality of life that is important for families and that attracts talented employees and makes them want to stay here-
Lee: Studies show children exposed to the arts do better in school, are more creative and innovative, and become the educated, entrepreneurial work force that will keep our region vibrant for the next generation.
Doug: In short, what makes the healthiest city for all of us to live in? What kind of town excites you to want to raise your families in?
Lee: One that has great recreation, wonderful cultural events, good schools, and a strong business base that keeps the other facets strong.
Doug: We want to talk about how we can best help each other- how can the arts help our city be more vibrant and strengthen the economy-
Lee: And how can our business partners and industry neighbors support and enjoy the creativity that we share and provide.
Doug: We want the next ten years of statistics to show that together we sent both those growth numbers climbing. Industry and manufacturing jumping up and up, and the arts and tourism soaring.
Lee: Our future is ours to create.
Doug: We see a Winona where families are flocking to live because it is vibrant with arts and recreation-
Lee: But just as importantly, because our businesses old and new choose to be based here, are proud to call Winona home, and provide even more opportunity for growth and employment.
Doug: Our way of contributing to make that happen is to present the most exciting Great River Shakespeare Festival ever. We will be announcing our full season and wonderful slate of events and programming Monday, Nov. 4th at our Stakeholders event and party at the History Center from 4:30 - 6:30 pm.
Lee: Oh, but what if Iím not a Stakeholder of the Festival? Can I still go eat some free food?
Doug: Thatís exactly the point: everyone in Winona and the entire region is a Stakeholder. Itís your Festival, we just work here. Lee: If you show up, if you support-
Doug: If you eat the free food-
Lee: It is your way of saying you want a healthier, thriving Winona. You want to continue to build a place where people canít wait to live and play.
Doug: Stakeholder means you care. Thatís all. So everyone is invited.
Lee: But what if I donít like theater? Or, even worse, Shakespeare. We read Shakespeare in school and yawn, snore, sorry, but I just didnít get what all the fuss was about.
Doug: Thatís what we want to talk about next week.
Lee: I know that is why I just worked it in rather deliberately and not so cleverly.
Doug: So tune in next week-
Lee: Itís not radio- itís a newspaper-
Doug: So look for us next week, as we talk about No Fear Shakespeare
Lee: Or why some of us Hate Hamlet.
Doug: But until then mark your calendars and become a Stakeholder on Nov. 4th-
Lee: And remember together we all can create an even more vibrant and beautiful Winona.