Remarks to Chatham County Board of Commissioners

My name is Gina Harrison and I currently serve as President of the Board for the Chatham Arts Council. As you consider priorities for the upcoming budget year, I want to thank you for your efforts to fully restore County support for the arts, to share a bit about the work of the Chatham Arts Council specifically, and to provide some information about why I believe it is a worthwhile investment. According the US Conference of Mayors (2008), “Governments which support the arts on average see a return on investment of more than $7 in taxes for every $1 that the government appropriates.”1

The New Chatham Arts Council

CAC-logo-stackSM_GRNAfter celebrating our 30th Anniversary, we took a year to reflect and reassess our mission, goals, and future direction. We spoke to a broad spectrum of the community. With a talented, dedicated executive director, and board representation that now includes local government, the creative community, business leaders, higher education, and Chatham County Schools, we rolled out our new identify and work scope this past November.

We nurture creative thinkers
We invest in artists | We educate kids through the arts.2

We invest in artists:

  • Administering the NC Grassroots Arts Grants (as the designated county partner to the NC Arts Council) that support performing arts organizations and nonprofits that use the arts to achieve their goals. Annually the Grassroots program invests between $15,000 and $20,000 in Chatham county.
  • Sponsoring Emerging Artist Grants.
  • Promoting Chatham arts and artists through our redesigned website featuring an updated Artist Directory and Arts Calendar, Spotlight articles, social media, weekly newsletter, and press releases. (Weflytrap’re reaching more than 1700 people online every day and we have more than 1200 e-news subscribers. Our January featured artist received more than 1,000 visits to her Facebook page and hundreds of new hits on her website at Flytrap Clothing when her feature was published.)

We educate kids through the arts:

  • Producing ClydeFEST—our annual kids’ folk art festival.
  • Piloting a new Arts-in-Education Residency Program in 2015–2016.

FestMail Vidabeth

As noted in the council’s vision for long-term impacts of this work for the future of Chatham County:

  • Solvency for artists makes it likely that artists will continue to live here. Creative communities have a higher quality of life, and communities with a higher quality of life have stronger economies. Greater awareness of the arts can keep more residents in town on the weekends—and draw visitors here, too.
  • Educating kids through the arts grows creative thinkers, and creative thinkers make strong employees, employers, and entrepreneurs for
    Chatham County.

Highlighting and promoting the work of our creative community attracts tourists and encourages our citizens to spend leisure time and dollars here as well. A vibrant creative community is part of the package that makes Chatham attractive to prospective businesses.

We know that participation in strong arts education programs is associated with increased cognitive development, reduced school dropout rates, increased test scores, higher education attainment, and greater civic participation.3


Two More Points from Americans for the Arts 

  • When we reduce their support for the arts, we are not cutting frills. Rather, we’re undercutting an industry that is a cornerstone of tourism, economic development, and the revitalization of many downtowns. When we increase support for the arts, we are generating tax revenues, jobs, and a creativity-based economy.
  • The typical attendee to a nonprofit arts event spends $27.79 per person, per event (excluding admission) on transportation, lodging, and other event-related costs. Nonlocal attendees spend twice as much as their local counterparts ($40.19 vs. $19.53). Thirty-nine percent of attendees are nonlocal. Few industries can boast this kind of event-related spending.4

Chatham—The Creative Community in the Creative State

Our updated Artist Directory includes Chatham professionals working in more than 30 creative disciplines—Authors, Photographers, Actors, Jewelers, Painters, Musicians, Folk Artists, Directors, Designers, Choreographers, Teaching Artists, Woodworkers, Producers, Poets, Screenwriters, Voiceover Artists, Fabric Artists, Editors, Stained Glass Artisans, Printers, Illustrators, Potters, Glass Blowers, Storytellers, Graphic Designers, Book Designers, Sculptors, Songwriters, Choral Conductors, Paper Makers, Web Designers, and Composers!

They are self-employed small business owners. They work in all levels of education. They exhibit, perform, and teach across the country. Some are recipients of emerging artist grants. Others are master craftsmen and performers at the zenith of distinguished careers. Galleries, restaurants, clubs, bookshops, and schools/camps/studios directly benefit from their presence.

Many Chatham students—graduating from the oldest comprehensive arts education public school program in NC are also pursing arts careers—studying dance in Seattle,WA; theatre in MN, at East Carolina, and at UNCG; graphic design in New York; opera at Appalachian; instrumental music at the UNC School of the Arts; and pursuing doctoral studies in Jazz as a Mancini Scholar in Miami.

Some artists preserve our heritage—they are our lifeline to skills, processes, music and stories of a time long past. Newcomers add the flair, creativity, and traditions of different cultures to the mix. Others are incorporating technology and striking out in exciting new directions. They are all our most valuable natural resource.

Education. Promotion. Celebration. Commemoration. 

We look forward to opportuities to work with the Board on Commissioners on future initiatives to enhance and celebrate the place that we love. Your support to increase our capacity is vital to this important work and greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Notes
1Retrieved February 27 from Americans for the Arts website: http://www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/reports-and-data/toolkits/local-arts-rapid-response-kit/local-arts-rapid-response-kit-key-industry-stakeholders

2 Chatham Arts Council http://www.ChathamArtsCouncil.org

3 The Arts Education Navigator: Facts and Figures. http://issuu.com/americans4arts/docs/afta_navigator_facts-and-figures/19?e=2915314/1587929

4Americans for the Arts: http://www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/reports-and-data/toolkits/local-arts-rapid-response-kit/local-arts-rapid-response-kit-talking-points

Invest in the Arts on #GivingTuesday

GT_icon_arts-150x150 For #GivingTuesday, I’d like share some arts and arts education organizations I work with and/or support. I recommend these to you. They do good, important work. Their efforts improve our communities, assist our teachers and schools, and provide our students new opportunities. They need your investment—your time, your talents, your money. JMArts

Grease Cast

Cast & Crew of the 2014 SRO production of Grease.

JMArts supports arts education at Jordan-Matthews High School in Siler City. Founded in 2011, their enthusiastic, dedicated volunteers have funded field trips, arts performances, headed up fundraising for their new grand piano, helped produce the annual musical, and sent dozens of kids to summer arts camps. Visit their Facebook page to learn more about their fantastic work. Send a kid to camp! If you want to be part of the effort, contact JMArts President Rose Pate.


NHSAEF

“Ensuring excellence in arts education by identifying, creating, and supporting programs that enrich learning, foster student achievement and increase community involvement.”

NHSAEF Scholars Listing

NHSAEF Scholarship Recipients

Northwood High School in Pittsboro, NC was named a 2013 Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts School of Excellence for their distinguished, comprehensive arts education program. Sister organization of JMArts, the Northwood High School Arts Education Foundation was founded in 2007 to support and promote  NorthwoodArts.  Teacher grants provide resources for the ongoing work of the department, the Carlin Camp fund supports students’ summer arts activities, and annual college scholarships recognize achievements in visual and performing arts. Since its inception, NHSAEF has presented more than $35,000 in scholarship funds. Visit NHSAEF online to learn more and to make a gift. Make a contribution and name a scholarship in someone’s honor or memory. Contact Leslie Burwell to become a much-needed volunteer.


NHSBFAA Northwood also has a new organization this year making contributions easier than ever. Visit the NHS Boosters, Friends and Alumni site. BFAAYou can arrange a single or monthly donation to support a wide array of programs. You can contribute directly to individual sports, each arts discipline as well as NHSAEF, career & technical education programs, clubs or their general fund.


Chatham Arts Council

“Nurturing Creative Thinkers”

After celebrating 30 years promoting & producing arts events in our community, the Chatham Arts Council spent the past year examining their work, their focus, their impact, and their mission. In November 2014, they introduced a new identity—new logo, new website and new focus. Settling on two focus areas, the Chatham AChatham Arts Council logorts Council will 1) Invest in artists and 2) Educate kids through the arts.  Visit their website to learn more.  View or submit your own profile for the Chatham Artists Directory. Find all the latest Chatham County arts events on the Arts Calendar—including ClydeFEST, the annual arts festival for children! Learn about the planning process for arts-in-education residencies beginning during the 2015-2016 academic year. Become a member. Join the mailing list. Volunteer. Contribute.


ArtsNC
“Uniting people and communities to strengthen and celebrate a creative North Carolina.”

Arts North Carolina, is our statewide advocacy organization for the arts and arts education. Governed by a statewide Board of Directors, ArtsNC unifies and connects North Carolina’s arts communities. ArtsNC provides advocacy training, develops a ARTS-PLATE-C_WEBlegislative agenda focusing on grants funding for the NC Arts Council and statewide arts education policy. It sponsors Arts Day, an annual two-day event with conference speakers and a legislative day for members to meet and discuss the importance of arts initiatives in their communities with their legislators. In addition to hundreds of individuals, member organizations include more than 200 arts councils, museums, educational institutions, professional organizations, theatre companies, galleries, dance companies, festivals, music ensembles, and foundations from across North Carolina. Visit ArtsNC online. Become a member. Join their mailing list. Purchase a ARTS license plate—it creates revenue to support the work of ArtsNC, it brands NC as “the creative state” and you as a strong arts supporter, and it funds the NC wildflower and visitor center accessibility programs!