BY JON VANDERFORD
Nebraskans are being encouraged to turn up their “Dream Switch” through a unique Nebraska Community Foundation arts effort.
As a playwright and artist, Becky Boesen moved away from Nebraska twice to pursue her career. “I realized that in my absence, everything I needed to become me was here,” Boesen said. Like many young “returners”, Becky is finding fulfillment at home. Becky’s return to the state eventually led to a project called “The Dream Switch”. “The Dream Switch project is a community wide effort that starts with a song cycle as a catalyst,” Boesen said. “It’s an original song cycle by myself and David Von Kampen, that reflects upon returner issues. or why people might want to come back to their communities after they leave.”
The Dream Switch was first performed in Auburn in August. “A song cycle is a lot like musical theater, except it it’s not theater, it’s a concert. And, it’s usually one singer, as it is in our case. Andrea Von Kampen is the singer, and she tells a linear story.” Also recently presented in Ord, the story is familiar. It focuses on a girl that has left college. “She’s at Chadron State,” Boesen said. “She decides it’s not a fit for her, but doesn’t know what to do with her talents. She heads toward Colorado to leave the family farm behind. She gets there and has a honeymoon phase where she enjoys it for a while, but realizes she misses the idea of wide open spaces.” The girl in the song cycle then returns to Nebraska to contribute her talents to her town. Those who attended the performances in Ord and Auburn liked what they heard.
“The Dream Switch” event is not just about getting to hear great art performed. It’s also a chance for a community to get together and begin the discussion of how to make improvements. Right after the live performance, attendees are given a platform to discuss future community goals. It’s part of what’s being called “Act Two.” In Auburn, attendees addressed the sometimes forgotten idea of inviting young adults back home. “I think so often we forget that when the best and brightest, or all of our youth and people who grow up in hometowns all over the state, leave to find something better on the other side of the fence, we forget to tell them to go explore the world, but please consider returning to your hometown after you’ve explored,” Nebraska Community Foundation Assistant Director of Advancement Janny Crotty said.
So, the Dream Switch project through the Nebraska Community Foundation is not only a meaningful piece of original art. It’s also an important step toward engaging communities in conversations about the future. “I’m a huge advocate for pursuing your dreams in Nebraska,” Boesen said.