Arts Link

new arts-based networking group forms

Trevor Kupfer

VENTRILOQUIST DUMMIES HAVE COME A LONG WAY. The Arts Link kickoff event is the upcoming improv comedy show Whirled News Tonight.

Many of today’s young professionals (ages 21 to 39), or members of Generation Y, have recently purchased homes, started families of their own, and/or began their first out-of-college job. Either way, their schedules are getting packed. Some in this group experienced cuts to their arts curriculum when in school, and most come from an era where an evening with the arts might mean staying at home and catching a movie on the tube.

This generation, and those coming after it, is becoming increasingly disconnected with the arts. And this is bothering a small group of locals led by Ben Richgruber, who are determined to do something about it.

The Eau Claire Regional Arts Center’s executive director has taken a cue from groups in markets such as the Twin Cities to create Arts Link, an organization that targets the young professionals age group with the goal of better engaging them in the arts.

Though individuals in this age range arguably comprise the largest number of volunteers or performers in these groups, Richgruber said they also represent the lowest attendees at arts events. This is mostly due to the aforementioned schedule-suckers, and partly attributed to the likelihood that arts-goers fail to branch out from their specific silos (e.g. theater performers not getting to art exhibitions, musicians not going to poetry readings, etc.).

“So the point is to cross-pollinate, if you will,” Richgruber said.

The idea is pretty simple: get 20 and 30 year-olds to sign up for the group, and get together regularly for arts events. “We could make this big pretentious group with a hoity toity mission, but really we’re just some people getting together to enjoy great shows,” Richgruber said.

Though specifics are still up in the air, Richgruber said Arts Link will probably have an event once or twice a month, something even a busy person can swing.

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