14 arts councilThe Hope Mills Creative Arts Council will hold a meet and greet on Saturday, Feb. 8, from noon until 2 p.m., at Marci’s Cakes and Bakes at 5474 Trade Street in downtown Hope Mills.

Elizabeth Blevins, executive director of the council, said the purpose of the meeting is to try and grow the organization’s membership and to reach out to artists of every genre possible to involve them in the council’s projects.

The goal of the event is also to connect with possible volunteers and contributors who can help the council jump start its efforts to share art throughout the Hope Mills community.

The group will soon be holding a photography workshop, scheduled to run from February through May, for teenagers. The goal is to hold other teaching workshops in different fields of art.

Blevins said the council has created a dozen different committees dealing with an assortment of planned projects but needs more people on board to make them happen.
“We are trying to increase the visibility of Hope Mills as a destination,’’ Blevins said, “not only by incorporating art into the landscape as often as possible, but by providing opportunities for the community and visitors to participate in art in some form or another: concert performances, theater, art workshops, art shows.’’

Blevins said art is somewhat of a foreign ground for Hope Mills and the council is testing the waters to see what really resonates with the local population and what types of art they’d like to see more of.

She said the group would like to explore things like poetry slams, dance, basic writing workshops, anything and everything they could possibly create and introduce art to the community.

“That’s another reason for the meet and greet,’’ she said. “You don’t have to be an artist or interested in volunteering. If you want to come in and talk to us, I would really love to see this happen in the Hope Mills community.’’

One topic the council has been discussing is the creation of a Hope Mills choir. “We’d like to have our own group of musicians that would come and perform at various events,’’ Blevins said. “Maybe just as background music, ambience.’’

Blevins said one reason the group needs more volunteers is it wants the council to establish a visible presence in town parades.

“We’ll need volunteers to be in the parade as part of the float, create the float and the costumes,’’ she said. “We are hoping to connect with art lovers, art enthusiasts, volunteers. Anyone that has an idea is welcome to talk to us. We want to share with them the ideas we have put on the table and the goals we’ve set for this year, hopefully get them excited about it and be a part of it.’’

Blevins said the group has had a pretty good response from local artists so far, but added the ones they have connected with to this point are all non-Hope Mills residents.
“That is something we are hoping to change,’’ she said. While the group is open to all artists from Cumberland County, they especially want to promote those with a direct Hope Mills connection.

“If you’re an artist from any genre, we want to talk with you,’’ Blevins said. “We would be very interested in doing artist showcases where we secure a venue for artists and put their work on display.’’

Blevins stressed the council is not limited to promoting any one genre of art. “We’re always open to artists, musicians, actors, anyone from any area in Cumberland County,’’ she said.

The council has discussed big projects like murals in public areas around town, but for now those are a bit too expensive to pursue. “Because we are working on nonprofit status and are a startup, we don’t have that kind of money right now,’’ Blevins said.

They are applying for grant money, and if that comes through, they will hopefully be able to get aggressive on installing the town’s first mural sometime in the near future.
If anyone has questions about the council’s goals or the meet and greet, the email address is hopemillscac@gmail.com.

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