The Buttonwood Tree operates under the 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization of The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts Center, Inc. From its storied opening on Rapallo Avenue in the North End of Middletown, in 1989, The Buttonwood Tree has been a grassroots, avant garde center for all ages, all comers, artists and audiences. Recognized internationally, nationally, and locally as a music venue, it has also offered programs led by outstanding artists in contemporary theater, literature, art, poetry and dance—from belly to hip hop—as well as opening its doors to community activists, educational and religious groups.
The Mission of The Buttonwood Tree is to:
Support the creative endeavors of emerging artists, nurture personal development, educate, connect and enrich lives and uplift people of all ages through the Arts.
The Buttonwood Tree’s Goals are:
- To provide support to those interested in exploring their capacity for self-expression.
- To provide artistic and cultural experiences to people of all ages.
- To serve our City and greater community by offering artistic programming that stimulates interaction, enhances commerce and unifies community.
What the Buttonwood Means to Me
I spent the summer of 2016 playing music with Alan Bradley after meeting him at Perk On Main in Durham. He kept telling me that once a month he hosted the Buttonwood Open Mic on Monday night and that I would like the place and the vibe it set.. He mentioned there was a special part of the Open Mic called “moments of gratitude”. He said it happened in the middle of the Open Mic where people go up to the microphone, introduce themselves and tell what they are grateful for. I was immediately interested. I believe what holds people back from being positive, is that some people get caught up in thinking about the negative and forget that what we are grateful for. What we are grateful for outweighs the negative things in our life if we can keep them in the forefront.
My daughter Morgan tried going first with a friend Bekkah and she came back and said it was magical. She said the people who performed were brave and even though some of them were nervous and shaking, that she appreciated the embracing attitude of the audience and that there was a spot like this in Connecticut. She lives in Burlington Vermont and she made it sound like this was a rare gem to find.
I of course had to go after that.. Paul Bozzi was the host and he made me feel comfortable as a performer. He told me I had two songs and when it was my turn, everyone was absolutely quiet and listening intently. Afterward a woman in the audience told me she took my picture and could she send it to me. She had so many positive things to say about my songs. Moments of gratitude was done by Anne-Marie and performers and non performers alike got up to the microphone to tell something positive that was happening for them. One young girl about 22 told about how she was working on her anxiety and the steps she was taking to stay in school and balance her job. After that a Belly Dancer got up and performed and a comedian and a few more musical acts which was a mixture of ages ranging from early 20’s to about 70”s . They were all in the same room supporting each others creativity.
That is the magic of the Buttonwood. The people are from all walks of life and perform what they are trying to hone in as their creative outlet. The walls have local artist work on it which rotate monthly. It is a sacred space that embraces the creative. That is what the Buttonwood means to me, and when I walk in I remember what people told me it was going to be like and what it was for me the first time I walked in through the door.
By Terri Lachance