Inspiration at the arts center

Published 9:40 pm Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sometimes it seems that the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts is one of the city’s best-kept secrets.

That’s not because the center fails to advertise its offerings — it regularly does so in newspapers, on the radio and via social media, and its offerings sometimes even merit coverage by area television stations. It’s not because of any lack of interest on the part of its employees or board of directors in spreading the word about the many programs, performances and classes available there.

Talk to Executive Director Jackie Cherry and you’ll find someone who is delighted to be at the helm of an organization that offers a wide range of programming for folks in Suffolk with all sorts of artistic tastes. In the performing arts, alone, the center has hosted everything from ballet to musicals, from opera to country music, from lecturers to children’s programming.


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Add to that the sculptures, photography and paintings that have been shown in the SCCA’s free rotating galleries, along with myriad classes on music, photography, dance, painting, sculpture and more, and it’s a bit of a mystery why the former Suffolk High School isn’t one of the busiest public buildings in Suffolk.

That’s another thing one is likely to hear about during a frank discussion with Cherry. She’s stumped by the number of empty seats left during performances at the center, and she’s disappointed that more people do not take advantage of the low ticket prices to enjoy the high-caliber entertainment the center provides.

Developing an arts calendar that satisfies everyone is an impossible feat. Some shows will be popular with some folks, and for the next performance on the schedule, some of those same patrons will be left scratching their heads, wondering why anyone would spend an evening watching. Even developing a schedule that has broad appeal, however, is a thankless job, and Cherry and her staff should be commended for their hard work on the effort each year.

Even more commendable is Cherry’s desire to seek public input about the center. In the midst of setting plans for the coming season, she has put together a survey to give the community a chance to weigh in on the matter. The survey, available at, asks about reasonable ticket prices, about what types of performances respondents would attend, about what types of incentives would make them more likely to become members and more.

It’s clear that the SCCA’s staff is working to make it an accessible and vital arts resource for the people of Suffolk. You can help them do that by completing the survey. And you can help even more by supporting its programming. You’re sure to find something of interest, and you might even find inspiration.