Diane McGary of Dracut, left, president of the board of directors of Dracut Arts, looks at a watercolor in process by artist Claire Gagnon of Dracut during
Diane McGary of Dracut, left, president of the board of directors of Dracut Arts, looks at a watercolor in process by artist Claire Gagnon of Dracut during Dracut Arts inaugural event at Christ Church United on Saturday. (SUN PHOTOS/JULIA MALAKIE)

DRACUT -- Diane McGary's 30-year-old dream might have faded from memory as she raised and home-schooled her two children. But it didn't.

When she and her husband Tom moved to Dracut in the mid 1980s, she felt a need to bring performing arts to town. After all, she'd been an opera singer in the Boston area before she arrived here. Thus, Dracut Performing Arts was born.

McGary formed the group with a few friends with the intention of putting on four performances a year. She let go when her children were born. Now, they are in their 20s "so I started revisiting what to do," she says.

"Arts are a very important expression of humanity," McGary says. "They are a way to connect with the divine."

Once more talking with friends, she decided, "We should do this again, but not limit it just to music. Lets bring the richness of all the arts to the community."

In the midst of the anger and ugliness of contemporary life, it is more important than ever to bring the arts to the community.

"It's important that we are here, even if you never come here," she said. She explained that it is like a library, critical to the life of a community -- even to those who never open a book.

However, "people will be the richer for coming here," McGary says.

This weekend Dracut Arts, as the group is now known, held its inaugural event at Christ Church United. The event began Friday night with a dance and artists' reception.


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McGary says she has fielded questions about what kind of music the DJ would play. Her response has been "anything." She does not want to impose any musical limits on the program.

The work of artists Claire Gagnon of Dracut and Tanya Potter of Nashua was on display both Friday night and Saturday in Zimmerman Hall on the second floor of the church.

Saturday also featured on an author reading that highlighted the work of poets Cindy Veach, Matt Miller and Kathryn Hanson Foster. Veach lives on Cape Ann in Manchester. Miller is a Lowell native who now teaches at Phillips Exeter Academy. Foster lives in Groton with her family.

The culminating event was a concert featuring Dracut native Jessica Toupin, a lyric soprano with friends Kristen Flanagan, pianist; Peter de Silva, saxophone and clarinet; and Zackary Gentile, baritone. They performed the works of Charles Gounod, Ralph Vaughn Williams and Giacomo Puccini. They also performed more modern works by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Dale Wasserman, and Leonard Bernstein.

McGary says that future Dracut Arts events will follow the same pattern: dancing, visual artists, authors and a concert. She plans to hold five more events this year with the next one on March 9 featuring Dracut native and author Jane Brox and artists Amy Roberts and Ken Fiery.

Dracut Arts is actively looking for artists whether visual, musical or literary who would like to participate in future events. These events will be held at Christ Church United, 10 Arlington St., Dracut.

Dracut Arts has received funding from an anonymous donor and a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. McGary will be pursuing other grants.