Imagine an arts spectacle of music, dance, and spoken word that celebrates Rochester’s unique arts culture

It dawned on me. Not immediately, but suddenly I realized it.

It was a week in May.

My wife, Nita, traveled with our youngest daughter while I drove the eight hours to South Bend, Indiana, to visit our oldest daughter.

My hitchhiking companion was a woman named Hazel D. Cat, a 16-year-old calico cat gifted with a warm and loving nature but a lack of sophisticated communication skills.

My mind couldn’t help but think of the RPO Solar Eclipse Extravaganza in April. I’m still ecstatic about it.

Performances include everything – classical music, gospel music, laser lights, videos, acrobatics. The RPO puts on a huge show that attracts thousands of people regardless of their age and background. There are so many ways to enjoy this event, it’s no wonder so many people attend. It truly is a community experience.

The spectacle of the eclipse also comes to mind when I look at guest lists for serious roundtable radio shows and podcasts. For the past 5.5 years I have had the pleasure of hosting performers and people behind the scenes in music, dance and theatre.

I recall guests such as Jeff Tyzik, Gene Cornish, Ralph Meranto, Michael Cunningham, Mark Icona, Mark Cady, Carl Laporta, and many more. In some cases, composers, singers, writers and performers are internationally renowned, but they are certainly known in upstate New York.

As I passed through Buffalo, I was thinking “Buffalo has a certain culture.” As I was passing through Cleveland, I was thinking “Cleveland has a culture.” I couldn’t call Toledo, but there was certainly a culture in my destination, South Bend, home to Notre Dame.

Imagine celebrating our arts and culture starting from Lot 5.

The more I thought about other cities, the more I realized there was a certain culture to Rochester. This is a culture we need to celebrate.

Many fine organizations like the Eastman House and the Rochester Music Hall of Fame believe in this. But these organizations operate independently.

I envision an event like the Kennedy Center Honors focusing on what makes Rochester’s performing arts community so special.

We have RPO and RBTL, Garth Fagan Dance and Geva Theater Center. We also have the Borinquen Dance Theater and the dance and theater departments at Brockport University and Nazarene University. We have a vibrant community theater.

All of this gives us a different identity than other cities. We have rich artistic resources. Let’s bring our writers, our dancers, our Emmy winners, National Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members and everything Rochester has to offer in the performing arts together and celebrate it in one place.

Just as the RPO brings together many different but complementary performers for a solar eclipse spectacle that attracts diverse audiences, we can create an artistic spectacle of music, dance, and spoken word that brings together people of all ages and backgrounds.

You might say we already have the Rochester Music Hall of Fame, the Eastman House celebrating movies with the George Eastman Award. Why do we need more?

Our Kennedy Center-style events do not duplicate or take away from anything that already honors music or the performing arts. Instead, it will provide a larger stage with performances that can attract new audiences. Think of it this way: The rock band the Eagles are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the band is a Kennedy Center honoree.

I think our celebration of all the performing arts is part of the revitalization of Rochester. . Businesses are returning to historic downtown buildings. We have a strong reputation for innovation in startups, universities and was recently designated as one of 31 technology hubs across the country.

If we can be a business incubator, we can be a performing arts incubator. We have assets that many communities would envy. Now is the time to discuss how to showcase our artistic identities and let them shine.

RPO proved something to me with Eclipse Spectacular.

An event like the one I propose able finished.

I’d like to hear your thoughts. Please visit my NoNonsenseRoundtable Facebook page ( There you will see an article about this concept at the top of my feed. Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Oh, to be brutally honest. I can accept.

After all, I did survive in the car industry.


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