July first marks the beginning of our new fiscal year and the 30th anniversary of ChathamArts, the county’s arts council. As we consider the past year, we want to share the ways our organization has nurtured in Chatham County what physician, author, inventor, and consultant Edward de Bono calls “the greatest human resource of all: creativity.”
ChathamArts Encouraged Learning and Understanding
The agency brought arts educators to guide high school students to conduct oral histories with community members and then craft their findings into a stage performance about Chatham County culture and identity; For children, ChathamArts offered classes such as movement and dance, and kids camps in drama and percussion. For adults there were classes teaching watercolor, acrylic painting, drawing, and improv acting, among others.
ChathamArts Built and Grew
In collaboration with the Chatham County Economic Development Corporation, the Chatham Artists Guild, and Shakori Hills, ChathamArts planned and hosted over 100 attendees at the Creative Economies Summit in Silk Hope. Speakers like NC Cultural Resources Secretary, Linda Carlisle provided a blue-print to develop ideas, energy and participation to promote Chatham’s assets: agriculture & heritage, performing and visual arts, recreation, and sustainability-based businesses. See the video by creativity coach and writer, Michele Berger, here: Chatham County Creative Economy Summit
ChathamArts Provided Conversations and Depth
Speaking of sustainability, through ChathamArts’ Sustainable Cinema Series, we brought some of our state’s most thought-provoking leaders to Chatham to explore and discuss subjects such as industrialized farming, food security and local food ways, domestic violence, homelessness, the rise of women in local politics, and racial justice and reconciliation, among others; At Arts Day at the Legislature, led by Arts North Carolina, ChathamArts advocated to legislators to maintain state arts funding so arts programming can continue to boost travel and tourism and quality of life indices, educational opportunities, and serve as an economic development tool.
ChathamArts Gave and we Received
Through our annual Grassroots Grants, ChathamArts’ encouraged arts programming in other agencies which serve the entire county such as Chatham County Together, Family Violence Rape Crisis Services, Shakori Hills, Chatham Trades, and many more; Thanks to the Wren Foundation of Siler City, we awarded a $1,000 art scholarship to a graduating senior from Jordan Matthews High School; ChathamArts was inspired by volunteer efforts and the philanthropy in the tightest of times that doubled our individual donations allowing the agency to end the fiscal year in the black.
On April 16th, tornadoes tore the Piedmont apart on the date we scheduled our10th Annual ClydeFEST Kid’s Folk Art Festival. But the skies were clear the next day for the 600+ people who attended this uniquely Chatham County event and enjoyed creative youth-oriented enrichment. “There is no other event so educational and so loved by our kids as this one,” exclaimed one mother; We also said a sad farewell to our beautiful gallery during the worst economic period in national memory. ChathamArts remains so proud and actively supportive of our community of talented artists as they launch new collectives and help revitalize Chatham’s towns and enhance other cultural venues.
As ChathamArts enters our 30th year of service to the Chatham County, the agency will continue to inspire creative expression that celebrates our county’s heritage and identity through cultural activities that make Chatham County a vibrant place to live and visit. We welcome all members of the community to get involved in ChathamArts, whether as a volunteer within the organization or as a participant at the events we present. Watch our website for upcoming opportunities to engage and express yourselves.