Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: Why Do I Invest in the Arts? It Feels Good

By Jon Wiant

The journey being an Angel Donor at Creative Cauldron was my wife’s journey. Cay had been adamant for years that we needed a theater program and arts program here in the Little City. In the fall of 2007, Cay was teaching a class called “Writing As a Gift” at Creative Cauldron’s first home in the back rooms of Art and Frame. We had just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary and she had written a piece to celebrate this milestone called “Sparks,” which was about our second date. She was so excited to teach this class, but we soon received the devastating news that she had brain cancer.

Originally, we believed that she was going through a depressive episode. She had recently retired from a long and wonderful career as a teacher. However, she began to find it difficult to remember words and names. We had a little joke about the “English teacher who lost her nouns.” One night, before she was supposed to teach at Creative Cauldron, she told me that “I can’t teach. I can’t put two words together.” So, I wrote a note to Laura Connors Hull, Creative Cauldron’s founder, saying “I think we’re there.” A few weeks later, we had a scan and were told that Cay had 30 to 60 days to live. We actually had 20 months with her before she passed. I think that among her despairs was the fact that Creative Cauldron still did not have a theater.

In all of our almost 50 years together, I had only expressed one true material need: I wanted a Porsche. After Cay’s passing, we received an envelope from an insurance company that contained the exact amount of money to purchase it. However, my daughter convinced me to rethink my purchase and we all decided to make Cay’s dream of a theater come true. I called Laura and Marty Meserve, then president of the board, to discuss what we wanted to do for Cay. I wrote them a check for $50,000 and told them that I would continue to help support Creative Cauldron in honor of Cay. I knew that it was exactly what she would have wanted.

About five years ago, Laura had discussed the Cauldron’s vision to commission new musicals in a program called “Bold New Works for Intimate Stages.” I told her immediately that I would underwrite the program for the next five years. I have never had so much fun seeing Matt Conner and Stephen Gregory Smith write these new works and being part of making it all happen. I am so proud of what Laura has done and I love seeing this dream, which is equally Cay’s dream, realized. Creative Cauldron is a magical place here in the Little City.

The arts have been important to me ever since I was little. I started college as a Fine Arts major and a watercolorist. My father was also an artist and gifted cartoonist, and my mother was a very educated woman with two masters degrees and a member of the Colorado State Art Council. She became very ill when I was nine and was hospitalized for some experimental cancer treatments. Though I didn’t get to know her as much as I would have liked, I will always remember that she gave me my first set of oils with a painting guide. My parents instilled a real love of art in me. I think we should celebrate art and celebrate life. Anything that brings art into life or life into art should be supported and developed.

Why should you consider donating to the arts? Because you will invest in a better life! I think that art makes life so whole and improves our community. Since I did my doctoral work in the early seventies, my focus has been centrally concerned on the meaning of community and how communities change. I feel that Creative Cauldron addresses the needs of the community and that it has the power to address many of the current issues that face our society today. It’s actually one of the reasons that I got involved in their Arts Adventure Camps with “Agents of Imagination: The Art and Theater of Espionage.” I’ve taken on the role of the “Professor” at these camps, teaching young people that how we convey and observe information is a form of art in itself.

You do what makes you feel good, and I feel good when I invest in the arts. Sitting at the Cauldron, watching a performance that exceeds every expectation and thinking “I helped make this!” feels wonderful. No, I am not an actor, but my contribution helped make it possible for everyone involved to bring this production to life. Just as much as my writing, my contributions to the arts are my legacy.

 


Jon Wiant is a retired Senior Intelligence officer and also an award-winning professor of Intelligence Studies.