By SHERIDAN CYR
Members of the Southington Festival Chorale (SFC) spoke out at the March 26 Town Council meeting with a petition containing 300 signatures signing off on support for additional funding from the town after being cut from $6,000 in the previous year to $3,000 this year.
The petition originally requested $5,000 in funding, before executive director of Southington Cultural Community Arts (SoCCA) caught wind through the help of councilor Dawn Miceli and offered to let the SFC rehearse and keep some storage at the arts facility. This cut costs by about $1,000, and the SFC still hopes the town can provide funding of $4,000.
Margaret “Peg” Lewis led the conversation during public communications with the council.
“We are hopeful that the SFC can continue to survive beyond its first 45-plus years, but we need that small amount of town funding until we are able to build an adequate Sustainability Fund,” said Lewis. “We are asking for $4,000—a mere sliver of what the town allocates to recreational activities and only one-tenth of what it allocated in 2017-18 to adult softball and basketball.”
Lewis said the SFC is equally important as a recreational, adult activity, citing health benefits including enhancing cardiac, respiratory and neurologic functioning, and enhancing the immune system and anti-inflammatory response.
“We feel very strongly that the SFC should be recognized not simply as a local arts endeavor,” Lewis said, “but also as an important health-enhancing recreational activity for adults.”
Katherine Magzag, a second member of SFC, said singing releases endorphins (a hormone that produces happiness) and decreases cortisol (a stress hormone). It also improves mental alertness, helping to “keep dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay.”
She, too, appreciated the SFC community. “During weekly rehearsals, I leave my troubles at the door and enjoy the comradery of working as a team towards a common goal and the pure joy of creating beautiful music.”
Councilors Victoria Triano (R), John Barry (D) and chair Chris Palmieri (D) thanked the choir members for coming in and speaking.
“There’s a history there,” said Triano. “That is part of the fabric of Southington. I appreciate it so much that you came in with this petition.”
Barry thanked members for the many letters of support that were sent in to councilors. “It shows how much you care about this.”
Chair Palmieri agreed, and said the town can take a look within funds and possibly reallocate funds. He reminded all that it has been a difficult budget season for the town.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.