Year after year the Arts Council of Fayetteville and Cumberland County has looked for ways to help artists flourish and to build a community enhanced by the arts. {mosimage}
    If you’re not personally involved in the local arts community, you may think the council’s exhibit at the 4th Friday gallery crawl is the pinnacle of its interaction with local artists and the community. Not true. Advocacy for artists and an artistic culture in the community is an ongoing process. Creation: the Acquisition Exhibition is a remarkable example of how the Arts Council and a local corporation lead the way in partnerships.
    In short, Creation was a result of a call for art by the Cape Fear Valley Health System to purchase original works for its new patient tower. In partnership with the Arts Council, CFVHS decided to host a competition and an exhibit which resulted in 34 works of original art being purchased by the hospital. The purchase of that many works of art at one time by a corporation is unprecedented in the area and demonstrates the positive changes taking place in our community.
    The action by CFVHS to purchase such a large body of work by artists reflects its commitment to support the diverse and extensive talent we have in our area. They singlehandedly have lead the way as an example of a substantial partnership between business and the arts.
    Something this large in scale does not just happen. First and foremost, a group or an individual has to believe in the talent of local artists and want to support local artistic commerce. William Avenel, vice president and chief information officer for the Cape Fear Valley Health System, was the individual who had the vision to support local artistic commerce. He approached the Arts Council looking at ways to buy work from area artists for the new building.
    Several key elements factor into the equation. Avenel has a background in the arts (a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of New Orleans and a master’s of fine art from the University of Alabama) and understood the importance of purchasing original works. He and CFVHS were ready and committed to monetarily supporting the local artistic community.
    In addition, the Arts Council was poised and prepared to undertake the partnership. Margo Jarvis, director of marketing and development for the Arts Council, said, “They had a budget and architectural plans in hand almost two years ago. After brainstorming ways to create a pool of original works to select from, a call for art and an exhibition was planned.”
    Jarvis also commented on how much the Arts Council “applauds the leadership of CFVHS and hopes other businesses will consider partnering with the Arts Council.”
    She added, “Although it may not seem like it at the time, purchasing just one original work from local and area artists means you are investing in the economic development of your community.”
    Avenal, the CFVHS, and Arts Council now lead the way in a win-win situation. Local artists were supported and the hospital has purchased some excellent work. Not only can the hospital pride itself on its support of the community which supports it, but many of those works will appreciate in value.
    To get the process started, the Arts Council issued a call for art for inclusion in Creation. As a result, nearly 250 pieces of artwork were submitted by 76 artists from 29 cities in North Carolina, with 44 juried into the show. Thirty-four pieces of artwork were selected for purchase and placement in the Valley Pavilion.
Although representationalism dominated the exhibit, I was still very pleased to see some variety in style. For example, two abstract mixed-media works by Dwight Smith and two abstract paintings by Fayetteville State University art student Michael Romagano were purchased. In addition, a beautiful fabric wall hanging by Martha Sisk was purchased.
    Upon visiting the exhibit, visitors and artists will recognize many of the local artists whose work was selected for purchase.
    Already it seems as if more businesses have finally realized it is good business to support the local arts.     While in the process of reviewing the exhibit, I noticed Calvin Mims (art services coordinator for the arts council) showing the remaining works which were still available for purchase to Dr. Eric Roman and Dr. Clifton Cameron, dentists who are opening a practice in Fayetteville.
    Stephanie Robinson, an arts council board member, had mentioned the CFVHS initiative to the doctors. Both felt purchasing local art was an opportunity to support local artists. They hope to open Dental Works across from the Cross Creek Mall in early August with original local art work on the walls.
    Cameron said he was from Fayetteville and that Roman and he were “open to selecting different styles and media for their new office.” He further commented, “What is important for us as a business is to continue to support the arts and forge a long lasting relationship with the Arts Council.”
    Awareness for local talent doesn’t end with this exhibit. Mims informed me of a newly formed program he is coordinating at the Arts Council called “Art in the Workplace.” Mims stated, “The Creation competition has become a template for the Arts Council. At this time I am creating a library of images and information of local artists for businesses and individuals to view. The image library will be a way for visual artists to show their work on the Art Council’s Web site and sell work, or someone interested in their work can contact the artist directly.”
    {mosimage}For artists in the area, I personally hope you will continue or start to take advantage of the opportunities being made available to you by visiting the Arts Councils Web site, www.theartscouncil.com. The only way for more diversity in the arts to become a reality is for diverse artists to do their part in exhibiting and participating in the opportunities as they present themselves.
    Creation: The Acquisition Exhibition opened during the Fourth Friday activities, July 25 at the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County; and will remain open to the public through Aug. 16. As always, the exhibit is free, for more information, visit or call (910) 323-1776.
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