For the first time in its 71-year history, the oldest arts council in the U.S. had a birthday party on YouTube and Facebook.
The event began, as most Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County functions do, with music, this time a video of the John Ray Quartet playing jazz at the The Southside Beer Garden & Bottle Shop.
Randy Eaddy, president and chief executive of the arts council, wore a red face mask as he reminded viewers of the role of the arts in the community and asked them to help the arts council reach its $2.5 million goal by Sept. 30.
The goal for Community Fund for the Arts campaign was announced in January. As of Aug. 3, they had raised $1.3 million.
“In so many ways, these are challenging times. But as we struggle, we remember that the arts, and our amazing arts constellation in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, are a part of our community’s very foundation,” Eaddy said.
“I urge residents of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County to step forward strongly and support the arts organizations they have created and nurtured, and our diverse collection of talented individual artists — many of whom we see just emerging.”
Artist Jazmine Moore of Jazspire Painting testified to the healing power of art. After a childhood filled with a passion for art, Moore was traumatized when she witnessed the tragic death of her mother, Cheryl Bethea, in a domestic stabbing in 2014.
Moore, then 19, said that she stood with one child and was pregnant with another when she witnessed the stabbing. The event plunged her into despair and anger for several years, but when she emerged from her despondency, she knew what she had to do: She began painting again, sometimes up to eight hours a day without stopping.
“Art has allowed me to overcome adversity, be free from depression and inspire others,” Moore said. She is currently at work on a children’s book, “I Am Who I Say, I Am,” with help from a Regional Artists Project Grant from the arts council.
Moore will create commemorative canvases for donors at $75 level and above.
The online event also served as a launch party for the arts council’s community-wide mask-designing competition, which will culminate in a “Mask”-uerade Parade on Sept. 19. The competition will include winners in King, Queen and Youth categories.
Eryn Crews, the arts council’s development director, said, “While masks are confining, creativity and imagination are expansive.”
If COVID-19 restrictions allow, the event will be outdoors. If not, it will be online. Either way, Lisa Konczal, a photographer, actress, singer and dancer will lead line-dances. Konczal, who is from Winston-Salem, recently returned from 15 years working in the entertainment industry on the West Coast.
As a child, Konczal studied photography at the Sawtooth School for Visual Art, and performed with the Little Theatre of Winston-Salem, both organizations supported by the arts council.
Shaheen B. Towles, an arts council board member and chair of the development committee, said, “During the dark times is when we need the arts more than ever. ... Musical performances, spoken words and the visual arts, to name a few, can take us to places that bring joy to our lives.”
Talitha Vickers, a WXII news anchor, hosted the event from her father, Afee Vickers’, art studio. She took viewers on a virtual studio tour and said that her father would donate 20% of Sunday night sales to the arts council.
The event included a performance by the Institute for Divine Arts shot in Old Salem and other downtown Winston-Salem landmarks, and live music by SoulJam.
Winston-Salem Symphony musicians Karl, cello, and Sarah Ronnevik, viola, closed the show with Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag.”