Dana Oland: Small city is big on culture
Idaho Statesman |
Edition Date: 10/17/06
Don’t let Boise fool you. It’s not the sleepy Western town most people expect.
Yes, the main focus of the leisure culture and economy leans toward outdoor adventures, such as mountain biking, hunting, kayaking and fly fishing. But more and more, Boise and Idaho are becoming arts and cultural destinations. Tourists are as likely to see a play at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival as they are to raft the Payette River, or dine at the elegant bistro SixOneSix as they are to quaff an award-winning brew at The Ram.
The New York Times and Wall Street Journal highlighted the trend in the summer of 2006. The arts thrive in the Treasure Valley with a community that engages and involves its audiences at a rate that rivals larger cities in the region.
In the past few years, the city and state have received national recognition with the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, The Cabin (the Boise literary center) and Idaho Dance Theater all receiving direct funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Mark Hofflund, managing director of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival and chairman of the Idaho Commission on the Arts, was appointed by President George W. Bush to the National Council on the Arts, which advises the NEA.
Yet the city retains the charm and allure of a sincere small town that embraces and builds its arts groups. Each of the city’s anchor organizations began as community efforts. Rehearsals for the Idaho Shakespeare festival began in a cow pasture. A civic ballet and opera blossomed into professional organizations with strong regional reputations. The Boise Philharmonic, once a community orchestra, is one of today’s most sought after “tickets” in town.
The 2005-06 arts season saw the premiere of cutting-edge American choreographer Trey McIntyre’s summer dance project and performances by some of today’s best symphony conductors. The 2006-07 season saw the U.S. Western premiere of Don DiLillo’s newest play at Boise Contemporary Theater.
Also on tap for 2006-07: There’s an extensive collaboration between Ballet Idaho and the Boise State University music department. Opera Idaho plans diverse productions of “Barber Of Seville” and the intimate cabaret showpiece “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.”
Expect an exciting Boise Philharmonic season as its search for a new conductor/musical director continues and guest conductors step up to the podium.
There’s also a lively visual arts community with a vibrant First Thursday gallery stroll in Downtown Boise, eclectic performances of music, theater, visual and performance art at the Visual Arts Collective in the growing cultural village The Linen District. The Boise Art Museum offers exhibits that are as far reaching as rich Russian icons, and as close to home as an exhibit reflecting the events that followed the 1905 assassination of Idaho governor Frank Steunenberg.
When it comes down to it, you could live in a much larger city and do nothing; if you do half of what is available to you in Boise, you’ll be exhausted.Dana Oland: Small city is big on culture