Blixt and Nebraska Community Foundation are challenging Nebraskans to “turn up their dream switch” through a co-produced community arts and development endeavor known as “The Dream Switch Project.”
Centered on a brand new original song cycle (an album that tells a story consecutively through the composition and order of songs) written by the award-winning, Nebraska-based musical theatre team Becky Boesen and David von Kampen, “The Dream Switch” focuses on welcoming, belonging, and how Nebraska, especially Greater Nebraska, can further its efforts to attract returners and newcomers, as well as retain those who currently call it home.
“The Dream Switch” story revolves around a young outlier from the sandhills who decides after her first year of college in Nebraska, that happiness awaits elsewhere. Audience members follow her journey as she leaves home, explores the world beyond, and then comes to her own understanding that “everything I needed to be me, was around me.”
Nebraska’s own rising star, Andrea von Kampen, and a band of seven outstanding musicians have signed on to be part of the project. In addition to public performances of the song cycle, Blixt, Nebraska Community Foundation and local community partners will host candid, post-show conversations exploring the show’s themes, what it means to belong, and what Nebraska’s hometowns can be doing to create more welcoming places.
Two “pioneer performances” are already scheduled, one in Auburn on Aug. 16 at 6 p.m. in Auburn’s Courthouse Square, and one on Sept. 23 at 6 p.m. in Ord’s Golden Husk Theatre.
“We see ‘The Dream Switch’ not only as a chance to enrich lives through a quality arts experience, but as an entry point and opportunity to have critical conversations about the future of our hometowns,” said Jeff Yost, president and CEO of Nebraska Community Foundation. “These performances will serve as a catalyst for honest dialogue about what makes Greater Nebraska special, what are our challenges and opportunities to grow, and how we can make our communities more inviting and welcoming places for those who have yet to discover them. We see ‘The Dream Switch’ not simply as a performance, but a platform for community development.”
Nebraska Community Foundation’s affiliated funds in Nemaha and Valley counties have been integral to coordinating the upcoming performances. Beyond public concerts, planning has resulted in extensive engagement and learning activities. For instance, in Auburn, Blixt co-founders Petra Wahlqvist and Becky Boesen have been working with local youth and educators on arts-centered projects that focus on sense of place and students’ perceptions of their community. Students were challenged to take photos and write about where they feel the most comfortable or happy in their hometowns. The group also held a virtual meeting with peers in Sweden to discuss the similarities and differences among their places.
In Ord, a “Dream Switch Day” will proceed the performance, when students from Valley County and surrounding areas will have the opportunity to participate in workshops and activities exploring the themes of the work. Community members will carry out intergenerational letter writing, explore ideas pertaining to early childhood development and childcare possibilities, and develop hubs to “catch” dreams from the community, culminating in a community celebration prior to the concert.
“Getting to the heart of what makes a community a place where people feel like they belong requires vulnerability and trust. The arts have the ability to remove barriers and help us understand complex topics,” said Boesen. “The Dream Switch Project exemplifies the power of the arts in a community.”
Blixt and Nebraska Community Foundation invite other communities to present the work and host similar conversations in the future. Individuals, organizations and communities who share a passion for the future of Greater Nebraska and wish to get involved or support the project should contact Petra Wahlqvist at email@example.com or Janny Crotty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, Aug. 16 at 6 p.m. | Auburn’s Courthouse Square
Free and open to the public
Supported by: Nemaha County Development Foundation Fund
In partnership with: Auburn Adult City Rec, Auburn Development Council
Monday, Sept. 23 at 6 p.m. | The Golden Husk
Free and open to the public
Supported by: Valley County Community Foundation Fund
In partnership with: The Golden Husk Theatre, Valley County Economic Development