It was historic. What was widely perceived as a county executive's financial bullying of small, defenseless arts groups in 2011 was so ugly to so many people that it led to an amazing chain of events:
1. Largely unprecedented coalitions of those groups with common political cause.
2. The kind of political power that comes from small groups of limited support bonding with like-minded friends and friends of like-minded friends, all dedicated to the same end.
3. The electoral removal of a sitting county executive from office.
No, those groups didn't all amass such political power on their own, but their unanimity was certainly crucial to the effort.
So area movie and jazz lovers might ask, with so much local proof of the strength of banding together for common cause, why on earth can't something like that happen to get us movie and jazz festivals worthy of the name?
We don't lack for passionately involved movie people. We have, in fact, so many that we have two general movie festivals and a couple of fascinating movie series that call themselves festivals.
The trouble is their leaders don't get along. In fact, mutual distaste among them is so advanced that public brawls are carried out on Facebook.
Meanwhile, we are 90 minutes away from the city with the greatest film festival on the North American continent -- Toronto -- giving so many of us empty dreams of a satellite festival here programmed and operated with at least some of the expertise that makes Toronto the annual miracle it is.
Let's not even talk about large major-name jazz festivals of a sort that cities have all around us -- Rochester, Toronto, Syracuse. Without even one fully functioning jazz radio station (and not much hope of WNED seeing the need for one, despite buying WBFO), we remain largely bereft and grateful for any events that come our way.
So with all the successes of 2011 (from Dipson Theatres, the lavish refurbishment of the Flix cinema turned it into a whole different sort of venue), we keep looking for the kind of unanimity of movie and jazz purpose that would give us the unqualified, glorious events we deserve -- and in the case of jazz and the Artpark jazz festivals, we once had.
The year 2011 proved one thing. Arts people know how to get very big things done. Now if only the right people would coalesce to do what still needs doing.