PRINCETON — Longtime Princeton resident and Prairie Arts Council (PAC) member Julia McCutchan has been selected to receive a special tribute — the Patron of the Arts Award — at the PAC’s annual Gala set for Feb. 15 at A Hundred Acre Orchard.
For 18 years, McCutchan has served in various capacities on the PAC Board and has shown strong commitment and determination to do whatever it takes to help strengthen the participation of cultural arts in the area.
Her time with the organization goes back to 1996 when her son, Ron, was on the founding board of directors at the PAC, and she was a frequent attendee at the programs Ron was bringing to the PAC.
In 1999, the founding members of the board discovered their terms were up, and McCutchan was approached and asked if she’d be interested in filling the treasurer position on the board.
With careful consideration and doubtful interest, she consented to the task. Since then, McCutchan has held just about every title possible at PAC. From president and vice president to gardener, grant writer, newsletter editor, groundskeeper, sign changer, baker, hostess, usher, fundraiser. You name it, and she’s done it.
When looking back at all the duties, she laughs and considers herself just another supporter and one who tried to encourage many throughout the years.
“I’m proud to be considered a patron of the arts and to have been able to be a part of it,” she said. “I’m always the one that’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s great. Lets do it,’ and I think that’s one of the little things PAC needed.’”
Taking a closer look at all the tasks, grant writing and newsletter responsibilities aren’t far from McCutchan’s mind.
“I hate grant writing. I hate the book work of grant writing,” she admits. “But with grant writing and newsletter editor, those are the duties where it’s exciting to look back and see we’ve done some neat things. Between writing a grant where you have to account for everything that’s done, and with the newsletter where you have to report what has been done or what’s going to be done, it was always my favorite thing to think back on.”
Through her timeless endeavors, she has stayed motivated by sticking to the mission statement and vision that drives PAC.
“When you struggle over today’s problems, you have to think back and say, ‘Oh wow, we have come a long way and done a lot,’” she said. “I enjoy working with people and enjoy doing something worthwhile. I feel like you should be a part of the community and should contribute.
“I like to see a young person be able to stand up and speak and have enough self confidence to do that. And to see people feel like their doing something worthwhile when they show their work in the gallery,” she said.
While McCutchan left the board in 2013, she will still be seen out and about at the PAC.
“I still won’t miss a gallery show or theater. I love going to them,” she said. “Art enriches a person’s life.”
As the PAC moves on, McCutchan said she hopes it will continue to enrich peoples’ lives and work closely with its mission statement.
“We don’t expect everyone to be an artist or a musician, but we expect you to play or sing or act all your life ... so you’ll be human; so you can recognize beauty; so you will be closer to an infinite beyond this world; so you will have something to cling to; so you will have more love, more compassion, more gentleness, more good — in short, more life,” she said.
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