11/17/09 — Arts Council fund drive nears halfway mark

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Arts Council fund drive nears halfway mark

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on November 17, 2009 1:46 PM

The Arts Council of Wayne County is almost halfway to meeting its annual fund drive goal of $45,000.

The total to date for the campaign, which began in July, is $20,000, officials with Arts Council said.

"I would like to, ideally, exceed that goal and raise $50,000," said Arts Council Director Sarah Merritt. "We still have a ways to go with that. And we're optimistic."

She said she hopes residents understand the value of local arts programs and will support them, even in hard economic times.

"I know it's difficult times economically, but at the same time, we provide opportunities for people to do things culturally that are right here in town close to home and not where you have to drive to get to them."

The funds will go to the general operating budget to pay for program expenses and everything that goes along with running an organization.

A recent fundraiser, the "Boo Bash," was held last month. About 100 people attended. Council officials said they won't know the total raised at the event for a couple more weeks.

The Arts Council will start a capital campaign toward the end of next year.

"Planning for a capital campaign is very involved. You have to have all your ducks in a row if you're going to do it right," Mrs. Merritt said.

The campaign will run for a year. No monetary goal has yet been set.

The Arts Council decided on a 2010 start date so as not to interfere with other local groups who are also doing capital campaigns.

"We don't want to compete with those organizations because they all have valid missions. So we're trying to find a time that we're not competing with other groups for funds," Mrs. Merritt said.

Money will be used for building renovations, such as new floors and doors.

Mrs. Merritt said she expects 2010 will be an "awesome" year for the arts in Wayne County.

"I really see it as a pivotal year for the Arts Council," she said. "We'll increase the momentum."

The biggest event scheduled for next year will be a Smithsonian traveling exhibit, "New Harmonies." It will be at the Arts Council Aug. 7 to Sept. 18. The exhibit will feature genres of music that are American in origin.

It will also be an interactive exhibit.

In conjunction with the New Harmonies exhibit, several events will take place throughout next year to highlight the music featured in the exhibit.

There's also the African-American music heritage project. It will be held in conjunction with the North Carolina Folklife Institute and the state Arts Council and encompasses eight counties -- Wayne, Wilson, Edgecombe, Nash, Pitt, Greene, Lenoir and Duplin.

The Folklife Institute has documented musicians who have made significant contributions to American music in the genres of jazz, blues, R&B, funk, gospel and bluegrass.

The next phase of the project is creating a trail, Mrs. Merritt said. The artists will be documented through video and audio. Also, a book, Web site and map are being created so that the project becomes a trail.

In partnership with the Durham Arts Council, the Arts Council of Wayne County will have an exhibit of a nationally recognized artist living here, Spencer Lawrence. Lawrence has completed a series of large-scale works on blues musicians and famous writers such as Maya Angelou, and documented them. He lived in New York for years and moved to Wayne County several years ago.