Many of us will pore over the Arts Preview for the 2011-12 season to look for events we know we'll love or at least love checking out.
But there will be people who go to shows this year who are not yet engaged in the arts. Maybe their parents take them, or they tag along with a friend or they're just curious. They are unfamiliar with settling into a seat to see live performers onstage or wandering a gallery and studying images, but their lives will change forever.
Something about a performance or exhibit will speak to them. They will see a play's relevance to their world, understand how an artist expresses herself through a painting and know they can do that as well, or be struck with an uncontainable desire to sing and dance. Maybe they will just want to see more, more, more.
That person will begin a life in the arts, be it as an artist, a patron, an administrator or a little bit of everything.
Those experiences will not be unlike the ones had by many people now involved in presenting the arts in Central Kentucky. They too had those moments — some seeing the light, so to speak, while others had a progressive courtship with their art.
For Adalhi Aranda Corn, founder and director of Bluegrass Youth Ballet, it was when her parents took her to a performance of Coppélia by the Compañía Nacional de México when she was 7 or 8 years old.
"My parents had played the music by Léo Delibes, so I was familiar with it," she wrote. "After that day, a dream of becoming a ballerina started, perhaps just as it does with thousands of little girls in the world. I had no idea what it would take or how I would achieve such a dream.
"What moved me and enticed me was definitely the music, depicting a story and enriched by strong, colorful visual of movement and costumes. It is such a complete experience. The ability to transport yourself to another world, in a matter of minutes, is such fulfilling escapade. No words needed!"
Lexington Ballet artistic director Luis Dominguez was inspired to pursue the same career as Corn, but in a different way, with a different motivation.
"I am not sure how or why I found myself at the Roosevelt library in Mexico City where they showed a PBS special about the Dance Theatre of Harlem. The company was performing Dougla, a very acrobatic ballet over the projection screen. After I saw it, I knew that this is what I wanted to do."
Summer Gossett, marketing and ticketing manager for the Singletary Center for the Arts, was changing her major at the University of Kentucky once again when inspiration struck.
"Late in my third year of college, I signed up for an art history class with professor Alice Christ because I needed to fulfill an elective, and I was immediately hooked," Gossett wrote, "I do not know if it was the images she projected on the screen that grabbed me or just the history behind them, but I decided to make my final major change to art history.
"I cannot imagine a day where I am not able to walk by a photograph, hear a vocal student warming up in the hallway, catch a glimpse of an orchestra tuning on stage or see a concert hall filled with patrons giving a standing ovation. And I owe it all to a single slide projected on a wall when I was 19 years old."
For some, it is making art more than experiencing it that provides inspiration. UK College of Fine Arts communications director Jennifer Scianterelli recalls being in ballet shoes from age 3. "I'm not sure I've ever really wanted anything else," she said.
Lexington Philharmonic music director Scott Terrell also began his arts journey in school, as a violist in school orchestras. He thought about quitting several times but was encouraged to keep going. Then, he got a chance to conduct.
"It is an experience I have never forgotten, because I realized that I heard the music differently, had a different relationship with it than I did when playing my viola," Terrell wrote. "I was hooked. I knew after that I wanted to be in music, around music and bring music to others."
Ben Withers also started as a school musician, even participating in band camps at UK. Then his artistic life took a turn in college.
"I had only a few chances to visit a museum before I went to college," wrote Withers, who grew up near Berry, in Harrison County, and attended Carleton College in Minnesota. "The first class that I enrolled in college was a general survey of Western art. This one class literally opened doors to a world of cultural diversity unavailable and unimaginable to me in high school.
"At the end of the course, our instructors arranged for us to take a class trip to the Minneapolis Museum of Art. I remember feeling apprehensive as we walked through the galleries toward the portions of the museum that held material from the areas we studied. I remember, too, the feeling of pride and accomplishment when I realized that I could look at a sculpture and tell whether it was Greek or Egyptian, and date its creation within a few decades. It turns out that looking at art was not all that different from the ability to look at a stalk of tobacco and grade it into grades of bright or red leaf."
Withers is now chair of the art department at UK.
Pursuing a career in the arts does not preclude a person from having a moment that reaffirms why they do what they do, and inspires them further.
"I was recently reminded of a concert at Singletary Center not too long after 9/11," wrote Tanya Harper, Singletary's production director. "Béla Fleck sat alone onstage and played our national anthem on the banjo. It was one of the most moving performances I have ever personally witnessed in all the years I have worked in the arts. You could hear a pin drop as he played and see such a range of emotions on the faces in the crowd. There is nothing I love more than to stand in the back of a theater and watch hundreds of people losing themselves in a performance. Two hours later, they transition out of this experience and back to the real world, but for those two hours, they have forgotten their troubles and immersed themselves in the art.
"And we, as artists, designers, technicians, production staff, ... slip out the backstage door and eagerly wait for the opportunity to do it all over again."