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Arts enriches life in the lakes area

There are many articles in the news lately containing statistics about the growth of our area. Opportunities for employment and education are listed as reasons for the growth. Quality of life is not always listed, but it is foremost. There are many opportunities to make more money for the same position elsewhere but we definitely offer "quality of life." In addition to our beautiful lakes and wonderful health care, outstanding schools, numerous community organizations and senior housing that are all listed as age friendly for all ages, I have recently become aware of another factor that enhances our quality of life and one we seldom acknowledge. It is the arts!

We are blessed with a tremendous group of people who are not only talented, well trained, but willing to share their gifts. They share them with or without compensation. To live in our area means "enrichment of life through talents in all areas and by all ages."

Naturally, if you want to see or hear the nationally famous groups, you travel to the Cities. But right here, we have equally talented people living but not performing for their living. They have other jobs here and share their talents with us on weekends and evenings. They do it without compensation. They do it because they are proud to share their talent with our community.

By arts, I mean all areas of the arts. This means music, of course, and theatre. Just pause and insert painting and needlework and storytelling. Our youth are trained and gifted as illustrated by the quality of their productions and concerts in our schools as well as the old-fashioned manner of "recitals." Our high school productions achieve the professional level. We have Red Willow on the Courthouse lawn, monthly performances in Evansville and the Senior Center, and almost all fundraisers utilize local talents to help entertain and draw audiences. The AAAA and Barrett theatres put on professional quality theatrical performances and also join Theatre L'Homme Dieu in bringing professional theatre to our area. And most of this is free or at reasonable fees to offset the costs of production. Many of our local businesses recognize the quality and value by sponsoring productions to help recover the costs and keep admissions low. The décor of many business establishment is art work by local artists. We do not lack "culture."

This really hit me this week as I solicited talent to perform free of charge for our traditional Aging Antics Show at the Andria theatre as a benefit for the Alexandria Senior Center. I also wanted "dinner music" for a church dinner. Music was desired for a monthly birthday party. No one hesitated to respond as the causes were good. The "pay" was zero. Sometimes we pass the hat to help pay for mileage.

How greatly my life and yours is enhanced. I want to remember to say thank you! Hope you will too!

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Kathryn LeBrasseur is a board member of the Alexandria Senior Center. "In the Know" is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.