We all know the ways budgets impact education: Arts usually are the first to go. The impact of the arts on a student are far more beneficial than legislators and officials often consider. Students involved in arts education usually are four times more actively participatory in both math and science, not to mention three times more likely to attend school regularly. Their academic achievement soars, and oftentimes they’re three times more likely to be elected to a class office of some sort, not to mention graduate from college—at least so says Americans for the Arts.
While adults strengthen these beliefs in a child’s youth, as we age we have to look at arts continuing to impact our world in various ways. Aside from the obvious personal fulfillment of creative output, and enjoying it as a spectator or participant, the way it shapes our society and culture economically and philosophically is greatly undervalued, both literally and figuratively. According to Rhonda Bellamy, executive director of the Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County, the numbers are significant. The last study the arts council did in 2012 via their arts summit had the nonprofit sector’s direct expenditures totaling $5.7 million on our local economy.
“Our audiences spent an additional $15 million,” Bellamy tells. “We supported the equivalent of 800 full-time jobs and generated $1 million in taxes for both local and state governments.”
Still, Bellamy says those impressive numbers don’t paint a full picture. Their summit had a 29 percent participation rate, so many voices weren’t heard. On April 15 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and April 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the council strongly will encourage greater participation in their Wilmington Arts Summit, to be held at Cape Fear Community College’s Humanities and Fine Arts Center. There will be panel discussions in the black box theater every hour on the hour, plus workshops will take place in 10 classrooms in the academic wing of the center.
“The input gathered from [last fall’s] listening tour, surveys, and direct contact with artists and arts organizations reaffirmed the fact that our arts community comprises entrepreneurs and small businesses, all of whom desire to develop professionally and to increase capacity within their respective careers and organizations,” Bellamy says
She has culled a list of various topics to be covered, from “Most Common Grant Mistakes” to “Sweep the Globe”—the latter of which will focus on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarteer. Dan Brawley of the Cucalorus Film Festival will lead the globe panel to discuss how the festival has raised $128,849 over the last few years.
“According to Dan Scheonbrun, head of film at Kickstarter, Cucalorus is the most successful film festival in the company’s short history (Kickstarter was founded on April 28, 2009),” Bellamy tells. “Dan will unravel the myths about crowdfunding and share highlights from the festival’s five campaigns.”
Also speaking will be local media (including yours truly to represent encore, along with John Staton of StarNews and Gina Gambony of WHQR). Editors and news commentators will speak about how coverage of the arts and events can be maximized.
Social media and new-age marketing will be covered and led by Toya Wilson-Smith, who consults small business owners and entrepreneurs. Groundswell marketing will be covered by WILMA’s Nina Bays Cournoyer, who will speak about actualizing small arts events and getting businesses and community organizations involved. Bays-Cournoyer will welcome ideas from participants to workshop for feedback
Other topics of discussion will include “Art & the Law: A Primer for Visual Artists,” with attorney Paul Jenkins; “Give a Damn About the Arts,” with executive Karens Wells of Arts North Carolina; “Calling All Millennials,” with entrepreneur and PeoplePassionate.com blogger Kevin Kleitches; “Google: Let’s Put Wilmington on the Map” with Jeanne Eury of the NC Retail Merchants Association; “Dynamic Models for Activating Space,” with SARUS Arts Festival founder Karola Luettringhaus, Jennifer Mace of Twelfth and Chestnut Community Project, and Alisa Harris of Dram Tree Shakespeare; and “State of the Educational Union,” a discussion led by arts supervisor Tim McCoy on the arts in New Hanover County School System.
“The summit has always been the intended outgrowth of our ‘Ears on the Arts Listening Tour,’ in which we convened various stakeholder groups, including business and civic leaders, arts administrators, and independent artists of all disciplines,” Bellamy explains. It took place last October to coincide with National Arts and Humanities Month. The dialog helps propel the local council’s mission of supporting arts-driven economic development.
“[We] facilitate communication and collaboration within the arts community, and advocate for the arts at the local, state and national levels,” Bellamy tells. “Our ultimate goal is to establish Wilmington as an arts destination, which is achieved when we have artists and arts organizations operating at optimal capacity.”
Bellamy aims for around 250 participants throughout the weekend, which starts with a networking reception on Friday, April 15, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. To register for one or more of the free 30 workshops on Saturday, head over to artscouncilofwilmington.org.