Back in September, I had the good fortune of joining the Norton Center for the Arts’ team as the engagement services manager. And what, you ask, does an engagement services manager do? Well, among other things, part of my job is to help develop and share exciting avenues for our patrons to engage with the wonderfully diverse programs the Norton Center brings to the community.

For example, did you know that the Norton Center hosts a fabulous Creative Conversation series every season? Or, that we regularly hold community Gatherings with visiting musicians?

These programs, along with scores of others, allow us to present fun and exciting engagement opportunities to our communities. Indeed, it’s a crucial part of our mission to enrich and expand experiences with the Arts, and it’s a goal we think about daily. However, like other arts organizations across the globe, we’ve entered a moment where we need to continue our commitment to presenting engagement opportunities to you, but in a creative and dynamic way that prioritizes everyone’s health and safety.

 “Now, more than ever, we need to actively cultivate our connections with each other.”

And so, I write to you today from a safe social distance because now, more than ever, we need to actively cultivate our connections with each other. Even more, the current situation involving COVID-19 has invited me to reflect on the general value of making remote engagement opportunities regularly available. While current world events have upended regular arts sector activities, it is a historical truth that physical proximity, financial resources, and many other obstacles routinely stand between artists and audiences. But, with an increasingly accessible bank of digital resources and social tools, we can collectively work toward building more bridges that lead to meaningful, in-depth arts experiences for everyone.

With these thoughts in mind, we are set to begin a new engagement journey here at the Norton Center. Each week, I will work to share diverse and dynamic opportunities for you to engage with us and with the visual and performing arts world at large. And, following the launch of our 2020/2021 Season, prepare to take deep dives into the Norton Center’s world and the programs we’ll be presenting.

Stay tuned—we have so much to share with you, starting now!

Molly Baker is a graduate of Berea College, where she studied Art History and Asian Studies. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Art History from the University of Kentucky. Before joining the Norton Center for the Arts, Molly held the position of Gallery Manager at TAMARACK: The Best of West Virginia. Later, she served as Assistant Curator/Gallery Manager at the Doris Ulmann Galleries (Berea College) as a sabbatical replacement. Molly is especially dedicated to the study and promotion of the arts and arts-based experiences using creative methods. Specifically, her goal is to bridge arts presentations with inclusive opportunities to learn about context, creators, and cultural significance, pointing to our combined human experiences in order to encourage critical thinking and understanding.