Some servers left on my attachment and a number of folks asked me to send
the text so here it is.
Dave Briggs -
To the Editor of the Valley News
I would like to respond to comments on Northern Stage and the departure of
Brooke Ciardelli. I think I am sufficiently informed to do this.
First off, there were two words in the Valley News Editorial that
particularly struck me. The first is "cramped". The Briggs Opera House is
not cramped - it is intimate and many people have enjoyed this aspect of the
space. The word cramped is unnecessarily negative. We need to stay positive
while Northern Stage and Brooke navigate somewhat uncertain pathways. That
said it should be noted that the Briggs Family understands and fully
encourages the Northern Stage vision for a new and expanded theater on the
former Miller property. That vision is just as valid as the Briggs Opera
House has been thus far.
The second word is "failure" as it pertained to Northern Stage predecessor
River City Arts. RCA did not fail the community nor did it really fail at
all. Rather it was partially moth-balled by a prudent board and then bravely
bridged forward by the community that started it. RCA successfully incubated
the thrill and the need for excellence in the performing arts in the Upper
Valley (which is to say not hours away in Boston or New York but "right here
in River City"). It is true that when RCA was put to rest in a corporate
sense that part of the corporation which really was human stayed very much
alive and faithful. Brooke's Northern Stage entered bravely and has
proceeded on the shoulders of River City Arts as it would not have been able
to come here at all. This is to say the continuum is truly a tribute to
Upper Valley citizens, as well as Brooke (and Catherine Doherty) and now
moves straight on "til morning" via a fully developed Northern Stage Board.
In the words of Garrison Keillor it "gets up and does what needs to be
done". We all are the Powder Milk Biscuits of the arts scene here in this
place we all call home.
To remind how well linked our community is in sustaining the River City Arts
/ Northern Stage legacy, the first responder to the (final) RCA mayday call
was our own Matt Dunne. Matt took over day-to-day management of the Briggs
Opera House with help from a few others including David Ford (Main Street
Museum) by keeping the Cabin Fever Music Series up and running. It was then
Matt who brought Brooke to White River Junction. There she found the opera
house pretty much the way it is today with theater seating, extensive
lighting in place and a legion of volunteers who stayed on. She also found
substantial board members, even those who had prudently closed down RCA
corporately, who "re-upped" financially and brought all other forms of
support. The Board today has grown from that point and is still closely in
touch with a number of those RCA originals.
So my hopes and prayers are directed toward all the possibilities which
continue to exist. This is a not a time to back off in terms of a
wait-and-see viewpoint as suggested by one letter. That would only serve as
a self-fulfilling prophecy and who needs that one? No, this is a time to
applaud and thank Brooke and then, even more importantly extend her our very
best wishes as she expands her creative horizons. We do that most genuinely
by ensuring Northern Stage is here for all the times she will be able to
access it and bless it periodically with her brilliance. The world is her
oyster but the Upper Valley is her home and we can be thankful for that.
Meanwhile Northern Stage has a plan and we need to support that for all that
it and will do in this wonderful community. For in fact, NS is us. We all
built it and we all ought to be fully committed to it without fear or
doubts. Steady as she goes I say.
12 Hillcrest Terrace
White River Junction, VT 05001
802-295-3110 ext 173 (W)