Amidst the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, social obligations, and weekend football last month, a bit of magic happened. The magic wasn't from out of the blue-it was more than a year in the making, as a matter of fact, and involved the talents of hundreds of local, national, and international artists and volunteers. It was made even more spectacular by anticipation. The magic was a new holiday classic created by WTVP, and it was called "Peoria Ballet's Production of The Nutcracker."

Taped on location at the Peoria Civic Center during the Peoria Ballet's 2003 performances of The Nutcracker, the program was headed by WTVP's "artist in residence," Senior Producer William Baker. His artistry and that of his crew was added to the already considerable talents of the ballet's company, students, guest artists, behind-the-scenes volunteers, and the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Commanday. After the painstaking process of editing a full-scale stage performance into the context of a television show, the resulting program was absolutely beautiful, both in content and composition.

I hope all of you saw it. Not only was it a perfect opener for the spirit of the season, but it was an exhilarating glimpse of the world-class quality that can be achieved when our local arts organizations work together.

It was also a perfect example of WTVP's refocused mission. With the beginning of a new year, your public television station is coming on strong with a rejuvenated commitment to our community. We've distilled our mission and purpose down to one simple phrase, and we consider it as both who we are and what we do: WTVP, Engaging…Enhancing…Inspiring.

And it's not just a fancy tagline to put on stationary, by the way. Take this production of The Nutcracker: The content alone engages the audience. Beautiful dancers whirl by in gorgeous costumes. Tchaikovsky's beloved music swells, tugging heartstrings and triggering memories. Incredible production value flows so well with the action, the audience doesn't even realize they're seeing special effects. And how fun is it to look for your favorite snow angel or mouse's knees?

The ballet's story is all about a little girl's dreams springing to life for an enchanted night of romance and fantastical fun. What about that doesn't enhance the holiday mood of the viewer? As for experiencing the ballet, for newbies and long-time devotees alike, seeing close-ups of faces, feet, and costume details-and getting views from multiple camera angles-enhances the appreciation for the effort, skill, and grace of the performers and choreographers.

But the inspiring effects of the program are the most fun. Seeing this televised version of The Nutcracker inspired people to attend the 2004 stage performance in person, beginning a new tradition for their family. And that, my friends, is the whole point.

But this production is just one example. WTVP has programming 24 hours a day that's engaging, enhancing, and inspiring. Whether Fons and Porter leads you to Sew Creative for quilting classes, Andre Rieu gets you quick-stepping to the Illinois Ballet for waltz lessons, the Vienna Philharmonic interests you in attending the Peoria Symphony, or our auction results in you venturing out to the Contemporary Art Center in search of further works by an artist you loved, let WTVP affect you. And, as WTVP not only creates art but reflects it-regionally and from across the planet-WTVP invites you to use us over and over again. And as we pledge to engage, enhance, and inspire you, we hope that you will, in turn, use WTVP as a springboard to engage in our region's arts scene, enhance your life through art, and inspire someone else to do the same. AA!