Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mission and Purpose

In January each year, I attend several arts conferences, in particular the annual gathering of the International Society for the Performing Arts. Within the context of a world economy in chaos, it was a good time to take stock of what we do and how we serve our respective constituencies.

In a time of economic upheaval, the most difficult thing an arts institution can do is to stay on mission. It is tempting to take the low road—to pick the low hanging fruit—when the going gets difficult. The pop culture beckons and the allure of easy money intrigues even the purist.

Our mission at the
State Theatre clearly states that we exist to enrich the lives of people and to contribute to a vital urban environment. We are committed to excellence in the performing arts, to providing an arts education program that informs and builds audiences, and to adding to the vibrancy of a thriving city.

While arts centers and theaters play a major role in the economic development of a city, the primary outcomes of the arts experiences we offer are not economic. Obviously, economic impact is a by-product of our attendance, but it is not a result of the theater experience.

The theatre’s primary purpose is to transform individuals and our community through the artists and arts experiences that we present. We should be raising awareness of ourselves, the human condition, and of the world in which we live. As Alan Brown and Jennifer Novak so well state in a study, Assessing the Intrinsic Impacts of a Live Performance:

“The true impact of performing arts experiences is what happens to individual members when the lights go down and the artist takes the stage—and, moreover, cumulative benefits to individuals, families and communities of having those experiences available night after night, year after year.”

Right now, times are very tough. But we will get through it. The earth’s path around the sun has not changed nor the moon’s path around earth. And so we keep our eye on that goal which has guided artists since time began which is to celebrate our creativity and to shed light on the human condition which we do nightly through humor, pathos, and beauty.

—Wes Brustad, State Theatre President & CEO

The State Theatre is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For information or to purchase tickets call 732-246-SHOW(7469) or visit

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