Editorial: We eagerly await the Arts & Entertainment Hall of Fame

It should come as no surprise that Tony Brooks was one of the most eloquent of many fine speakers at the inauguration of the Lucerne County Arts & Entertainment Hall of Fame. As a city councilman and a member of the Wilkes-Barré Preservation Society, Brooks is quick to connect the universal themes of the past that bind us together despite other differences.

It’s a “strong swelling in your chest,” Brooks told a crowd gathered in the lobby of the FM Kirby Center — herself an icon of stage, screen and music with deep ties to the area’s past. “We often can’t describe the feeling, but we know it when it fills our hearts.”

The new Hall of Fame, he said, will honor artists and entertainers who have shared their talent to “make us better people.”

In a cynical world seemingly divided into ever-smaller circles of digital influence, this might sound like an oldtimer’s dream from a rosy past. A generation has grown up glued to the microcosms of their small phone screens, which might give you the world at your fingertips, but allow you with equal ease to shut out of the world anything you don’t want to see.

Great artists and entertainers do more than satisfy an immediate itch. Her work goes beyond the selfish moment and gives us a strong sense of connection. It moves deeper and more universal parts of the human soul, reminding us that no matter the urgency of events around us, we share commonalities with others that span distances and generations.

There are reasons why some plays, films, songs, orchestral works, and books become popular not just across ethnic, economic, and geographic boundaries, but across time.

The new Hall of Fame, as outlined by members of the organizing committee including Times Leader author Bill O’Boyle, is intended to impartially select the nominees who “earn the most in all categories.”

Of course, the most obvious connection to Luzerne County would be the people born here, and that could make for an impressive list of insiders, including Oscar and Tony winners. As Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown observed, “There are many famous people from Luzerne County. You can be proud of that.”

But the plan is to also consider those who may not have been locals but lived here, or who came here to make their mark in the arts and entertainment world. And the roster of organizing committee members includes a deep and broad knowledge base when the search for candidates begins: O’Boyle, Brown, Brooks, former Times Leader author and longtime music columnist Alan Stout, Gallery of Sound owner and regular Joe Nardone, Local Music Show Organizer, Jody Busch, Musician and Sound Engineer, Lindsay Griffin-Boylan, President and CEO of the Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Constance Wynn, Representative of Rediscovering Ancestry Through Culture and Education.

It was Wynn who made a prediction that we believe will very likely come true as the gathering to unveil the new Hall of Fame drew to a close.

“We really believe this is going to knock people’s socks off,” she said with a smile.

We are eagerly awaiting it.

– time guide


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