Lloyd to explore art and community

MIDDLEBURY — For Liza Sacheli Lloyd, director of the Mahaney Center for the Arts at Middlebury College, art is all about community. And Lloyd will be putting that belief under scrutiny starting on Monday, at the first meeting of the Leadership Development Institute run by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.
Lloyd and 13 other arts leaders at institutions across the country — from Washington state to Vermont — will convene in Austin, Texas, to discuss “knowing and connecting with community” for three days. This theme, she said, is an ideal way to push the Mahaney Center into new community endeavors — she estimates that audiences for some 300 public arts events throughout the year are comprised of equal parts college students, faculty and staff, and community members.
“We’re in a place where the college and the community really mix together,” she said. “The arts at Middlebury are a terrific mixing bowl for community and cultural experiences.”
After Lloyd’s recent promotion to director of the center, in the summer of 2011, she said she’s ready to step back and examine areas where the center could be reaching out further, to more people in the community.
“I’m still new enough in my role as director to have a lot of questions about how we do our work here,” she said.
The Leadership Development Institute will convene five times over the course of the next year, and the members will develop ideas and bring them back to their home organizations.
Lloyd said she’s going into the experience with more questions than answers, and she hopes this will serve as an ideal way to answer those questions. Primarily, she hopes to find ways to return arts to the public sphere as society becomes more insular.
“The arts are one place where we can capture and rebuild that sense of community that we’ve lost over the past three-quarters of a century,” she said.
And Lloyd said the Mahaney Center is an organization that bridges nine different college departments with the wider community, and in that position there is tremendous potential to continue building up arts offerings and inviting more people in, extending the college’s academic and cultural offerings to the greater community.
“How can we invite the community to become lifelong learners?” she said.
Sacheli has worked at Middlebury College since 1997, and beyond the confines of the college, she has also had strong involvement in the town community — for instance, she was a founding member of the town’s ArtsConnect committee, which created the Middlebury Arts Walk in 2009. She has also served on the board of the Addison County Humane Society and is co-chair of the annual Face Off Against Breast Cancer charity hockey tournament in town.
“I really believe in the fact that community is something that is worth investing in,” she said.
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at [email protected].

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