07/22/14 — Arts Council hosts Showcase free because of new PNC grant funding

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Arts Council hosts Showcase free because of new PNC grant funding

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on July 22, 2014 1:46 PM

Wayne County residents will have the opportunity to hear jazz musicians from throughout the state and all over the country perform right here in Goldsboro -- for free.

The Arts Council of Wayne County has hosted the Wayne County Jazz Showcase since February, but was charging $10 per tickets. Because of a PNC Bank grant of $10,000, the event will be free for the next 12 months.

"PNC contacted me about some of the projects the Arts Council is doing," said director Sarah Merritt. "Then they came back and invited us to apply for funding for the jazz showcase. They even sent somebody to see one of our showcase events in June."

The Arts Council was recently notified that it was a recipient of the grant.

"That's wonderful because we just started the jazz showcase in February," Mrs. Merritt said. "That started as a result of one of our musicians from Kinston who comes to some of our stuff approaching us and saying he wanted to start doing something with us. He asked about doing a jazz concert once a month."

Jazz saxophonist Eric Dawson was that musician.

"All of the artists featured in the Wayne County Jazz Showcase are established musicians that have enjoyed lot of success in the jazz world and beyond," he said. "Some have shared the stage with Grammy award-winning artists, as well as heroes in all genres of American music.

"As solo artists, they have all arrived at a very high level of mastery of music, capturing the hearts of people from the United States and abroad and headlining some of the biggest jazz festivals in the world. Not only are they well established in the performance aspect of the arts, but most are all jazz educators and have enjoyed a rewarding career educating the future jazz giants yet to come. Most of all, they are all from, live in or have roots in North Carolina."

The Arts Council charged the admission fee to pay the visiting musicians.

"That's great if you have a full house, but if it's a slow night and you don't make a bunch of money, then the musicians don't make a lot of money," Mrs. Merritt said. "It's important to us that our artists get paid decent wages and fairly.

Mrs. Merritt said the grant means that the Arts Council will have enough money each month to pay the musicians.

"That's a really big thing for us because our mission is to ensure the arts are thriving in our community," she said. "And one way we do that is we make as much as we possibly can free. Then it's always accessible to everybody.

"For a lot of people in this economy, $10 is a lot of money. And if you're bringing a date or your family, it starts to add up. This allows people the chance to come in and just check it out, too."

With the grant, the concert will be renamed PNC Presents the Wayne County Jazz Showcase.

Mrs. Merritt said the concert is an important part of the arts and local community.

"Everybody's looking for a way to get back to where we were before the economy crashed and the arts are vital to that," she said. "The most important thing we do is address quality of life issues and give people something vibrant to do in their community that's interesting, fun and creative and also is educational and enriching in so many ways. The arts really can help stimulate economic development.

"I think when people see there are arts organizations that are active and doing things, then they want to be in that area. The arts bring a certain kind of energy."

The jazz showcase takes place at the Arts Council the third Friday of each month from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

The next jazz showcase will be Aug. 15 and will feature saxophonist Stephen Riley.

For more information about the jazz showcase, call the Arts Council at 919-736-3300. To get a calendar of guest artists go to www.ArtsinWayne.org.