AYER, MA: Mused American novelist and journalist Chuck Palahniuk, “The first step to controlling your world is to control your culture. To model and demonstrate the kind of world you demand to live in. To write the books. Make the music. Shoot the films. Paint the art.” The Ayer Cultural Council continually tries to support such cultural endeavors, as well as generating opportunities for others to present them, and sometimes helping to fund them. But what is the Council, really?
The Ayer Cultural Council (ACC), currently seeking additional members to join the team, is a group of town-appointed volunteers who seek to expand the cultural experiences for the residents of Ayer and beyond. Through funding from the state and the town, the Council supports a variety of engaging activities and events, believing that these programs support a growing and vibrant town. Some of the types of things funded and supported by the ACC are ticket subsidies, field trips, dance, music, pottery, media arts, storytelling, theater, nature walks, history, concerts, exhibitions, after-school programs and other programs of the arts, humanities and interpretive sciences. Members truly believe that these experiences foster a strong sense of community among residents, not to mention making the town appealing to newcomers by showing strength in the town’s cultural foundation!
Would YOU be someone who wants to encourage the growth of Arts and Humanities in and around Ayer? First you need to know what exactly they are!
When describing the Arts, most people will have no problem understanding what you’re talking about. They know that your work could end up in museums or on the stage, and might include painting, sculpture, music, theater and dance. But the Humanities are trickier to define, because a wide range of very different fields can all be gathered under this wide umbrella. It could be a community garden. It could be a meditation. It could be bringing together a group to talk about books and literature. Just think about it: What are the similarities between English literature and archaeology? Or between comparative religion and film studies? These are all examples of fields within the Humanities, but on the surface, they don’t seem to have much in common, and yet together they help to build on a cultural foundation that helps a community to thrive. According to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Humanities are “disciplines of memory and imagination, telling us where we have been and helping us envision where we are going.” A simpler way of saying it might be that the Humanities are the subjects that deal with what it means to be human and on the uniquely human ways we experience the world.
Efforts involving the Arts and Humanities within the Ayer Cultural Council are ongoing, year-round - and yet the commitment varies for those volunteers who take time to help support this nationally under-supported cause. In conjunction with efforts from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the ACC meets a bit more than quarterly, with extra meetings established around “busy times,” such as at the end of the year when the Council meets to determine and distribute annual artist/organizational grants. There are also sub-projects throughout the year that are headed up by individual Council members with the support of others – such as the recent Photo Calendar project released in the Fall of 2019, and the January “Faces of Veterans” exhibit in the Town Hall’s Great Hall.
In the immortal words of someone anonymous, without art, the earth is just “eh.” If you are an Ayer resident and have a passion for or an interest in things artistic, and if you have a few hours to spare in a year to help the community build on its already existing foundation of cultural experiences, please consider becoming a member of this valuable Council. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Council online at www.ayer.ma.us/cultural-council, and on Facebook for up-to-date meeting notices and other cultural community information.