Commentary: Arts make community vital; Verde Valley’s community support a model for all of Arizona

William Eaton

William Eaton

The Old Town Center for the Arts continues its 10th Season with great concerts coming to Old Town Cottonwood in 2018.

OTCA’s concert lineup for the new year just might be the best yet. Already booked so far are some of the finest performers touring today, including the Hillbenders, from Nashville, presenting the Who’s TOMMY, A Bluegrass Opry, Don Ross, Muriel Anderson, Dan Bresnan, Sean Harkness and many others. Though behind the scenes, before the curtain opens, the important work is done. Old Town Center for the Arts would not exist without the support of the City of Cottonwood, local businesses, volunteers and patrons who attend and contribute to the ongoing operation of OTCA.

The past 10 years have seen many theaters and performing arts centers close, both locally and nationally, including the New York City Opera, which had operated for over 70 years. What place does an arts center have for a community? Why is it important to support the arts and an arts center? These questions are often raised when centers look to local businesses, patrons and cities or universities for financial support.

People want to live and work in a vibrant community. Studies indicate that with the arts, a community becomes more attractive to current and future residents. Through events, art exhibits, performances and workshops, the arts provide opportunities for individuals to engage in new activities and get to know their neighbors and out-of-town visitors.

Businesses realize, when you partner with local arts, you partner with the whole city. The arts enhance community development, create jobs, attract new businesses, and draw tourism dollars. The renaissance of Old Town Cottonwood is in part due to the new attractions, arts organizations and businesses that have been drawn to the area, including restaurants, arts galleries, wine tasting rooms, retail shops and Old Town Center for the Arts, among others.

Over the past few years several businesses have really stepped up to support the Old Town Center for the Arts. Desert Dancer, Mount Hope Foods, Best Western Cottonwood Inn, Local Juicery, and Verde Independent have all been important contributors to the events presented at OTCA.

Both Desert Dancer and Mount Hope Foods have been cornerstones of Cottonwood retail scene for decades and realize the importance of the arts to the Verde Valley. Mount Hope Foods was started in 1970 and Desert Dancer in 1982.

Both are supporters of community and the arts and are locally owned and operated. Notably, Mount Hope Foods has been the foundation for the annual Circle of Friends Concert, for over ten years. Desert Dancer is committed to quality, ethical sourcing, natural ingredients and an artistic flair for many of its products.

Mount Hope Foods is one of the Verde Valley’s best sources for natural groceries and supplements. Local Juicery, in Sedona, has also graciously supported OTCA by serving as a ticket outlet the past two years, along with Mount Hope Foods and Desert Dancer.

For the new year 2018, OTCA is pleased to announce that the Sedona Activity Center will be the Sedona ticket outlet.

The Sedona Activity Center is located in the heart of West Sedona at the SW Corner of Coffee Pot and Highway 89A, and is a tourist’s hub for finding activities in the area.

It’s a great place to go in person, or visit online (, to schedule jeep, helicopter, airplane, golf, horseback riding, and other fun activities in Sedona and the Verde Valley, often at reduced pricing. This will be a good fit for both our local and out of town visitors.

On average, only about a third of an arts centers budget is covered by ticket sales. The remaining budget is dependent on charitable gifts, support by the city, grants and local business support. Best Western Cottonwood Inn has contributed through complimentary rooms or reduced rates to many of the visiting touring artists.

Sponsors like the Best Western Cottonwood Inn receive in-kind publicity, so we try to make the relationship a ‘win-win’. We’ve also partnered with other businesses and the City’s Community Development office, in ways that strengthen community relationships and efforts that impact economic development in a positive way, such as the creation of the Old Town Arts Festival.

As a touring artist myself I get the opportunity to see local newspapers and magazines all over the country. KUDOS is absolutely one of the finest arts and entertainment publications anywhere, both printed and online, and has been integral to any success we’ve had in attracting patrons to our events. It’s how most people find out about our concerts, workshops and festivals..

William Eaton is the co-director of the Old Town Center for the Arts, located at 633 N. 5th Street (5th Street & Main) in Old Town Cottonwood. Tickets for the 2018 concerts and events are available online at, and also available in Cottonwood at: Mount Hope Foods and Desert Dancer; and in Sedona at the Sedona Activity Center. For more information about upcoming events, visit For further information, contact Elena Bullard at 928-634-0940.


Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comment submissions may not exceed a 200 word limit, and in order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.