Chris Kastner is new to downtown Fayetteville’s artist co-operative, Cape Fear Studios. She found them by happenstance, which looks like it will work out well for her and the studio. {mosimage}
    “I happened to see an ad in the paper and it intrigued me” said Kastner. 
    Her expertise is more administrative than artistic, but that’s what made her such a good fit for the administrator position. She is no stranger to nonprofit organizations, and brings years of experience from serving on and chairing the boards of Fayetteville Academy and the Cumberland County Medical Alliance Society, which is a physicians’ spouses group. “I was president of that (Cumberland County Medical Alliance Society) when we rewrote bylaws and restructured our organization and things like that,” said Kastner. “So I have a lot of leadership experience in nonprofit work.” 
    Even so, the organization has proven to be more than Kastner realized. “I didn’t really know that much about Cape Fear Studios, and I told them in my interview that to me that was one of the problems with the organization is that they’re just not that well known for all the things that they do,” said Kastner. And that is something she plans to change.
“We’re just starting to look at doing some kind of annual campaign in the fall. We have classes here during the week, some of the instructors at Fayetteville Tech are members and their actual courses at FTCC are taught at CFS on Tuesdays.  There are all kinds of things that I never knew went on in addition to having a new artist every month for 4th Friday,” said Kastner. 
    “There is an annual pottery competition that’s coming up in September and they invite potters from all over the state to participate. The studio also gives a $500 scholarship to a local art student, and they are going to start a national competition for painters,” she added. 
    The first one of those will be in the spring of 2009. Artists from Cape Fear Studios also give classes at a local nursing home and host a children’s program at one of the transitional housing developments in town as well as participating in Santa’s Workshop in December.
    Pointing out that Cape Fear Studios has been in business for 17 years, she noted, “They were here back when Hay Street was still Hay Street, as the members like to say.”  
    One of Kastner’s goals is to get the word out about all the great programs and other activities going on at the studios, and bring in as much support as she can to help increase visibility. “I think our location is great with all the downtown renovation stuff but we need to get people to come off Hay Street during 4th Friday,” Kastner noted. “I hope that that changes as our name gets out there a little more; that we’ll become more of a destination.”
    The position is part-time right now but Kastner hopes the studio will grow enough to eventually take on some support staff. Currently, the artists provide the bulk of the support for all of the programs. 
    “Yes, they want to give their time here but they are also professional artists. My job is to help balance that,” said Kastner. “Yes, they can give their time but they need to let me support them so that they can still have time to do their art.”
    With seven artist studios in the building, anyone can walk in and watch an artist creating, check out the retail items sold by the members, take in the creative energy and ambiance and hopefully become inspired or moved by what they find there. “I just am amazed because I am not a creative person. I am an organized, logical kind of person. To wander through here and watch them creating is amazing to me,” said Kastner.
    Cape Fear Studios is located at 148 Maxwell St., downtown.
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