Sunday September 9, 2012

As a Lenox resident and businessman I was disappointed to read the Eagle’s Sept. 1 story of the Select Board’s discussion regarding performance artists in Lenox village.

I can understand the Sel ectmen voicing doubt or disapproval based on practical, logistical concerns, but objections such as "We can’t do this. I’ve lived in Lenox for a long time and this is something we’ve never had" are once more indicative of a blanket resistance from town officials to anything new.

We never had outdoor sculpture on our village streets be fore, or concerts in Lilac Park, or sidewalk dining, or sandwich boards promoting business. Would it have been reasonable to forbid these things because we’d never had them before?

I voted for David Roche after hearing him speak at a candidates forum at the library, and I’m certainly grateful for all his efforts on the town’s behalf, but I’m frustrated and puzzled by the town officials’ apparent pro pensity to first "just say no" to new proposals.

There are several spots on Main Street which are perfectly fine for a performance artist and don’t present a traffic or safety problem and don’t interfere with any businesses.

Why not establish a group to review the level of the artist’s talent and suitability? What’s wrong with requiring that an artist audition for the right to perform? And why not a tip jar? Does the Select Board frown on the current profusion of tip jars in stores or at cash registers because it thinks they inhibit trade? This is how performance artists sustain their art; to label them "panhandlers" is regrettable.

Here in the center of an environment so rich with creativity of all kinds, to immediately form a negative response to a novel request like this seems like yet another effort to automatically resist change and to keep Lenox unexciting, uncreative, predictable, and as a result, less attractive and less commercially vital.

TOM WERMAN

Lenox