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Connecting the Community Through the Arts

As we continue our Connected Communities blog series, Jamie White, Development Director of Columbia City Ballet shared an update on their 2018 Connected Communities project:

Tell us about your Connected Communities project and its current progress.

Our Connected Communities project was the Columbia City Ballet’s Midlands Festival of Arts. More than 30 local nonprofit organizations and artists gathered at the Icehouse Amphitheater in Lexington for the Columbia City Ballet’s Midlands Festival of Arts. The event took place on November 3, 2018 and showcased performances by Ann Brodie’s Carolina Ballet, Jazz Musician Mark Rapp, The Academy of Dance, Trustus Theater, Magician John Tudor, Columbia Children’s Theatre, Columbia Conservatory of Dance, Town Theatre, Shakespeare in the Park and Columbia City Ballet. The performance line-up showcased the richness and variety of the Midlands arts community.

How is your project “connecting the community”?

It was exciting to see the wide range of organizations coming together to demonstrate the interconnected nature of the arts in the Midlands.  We were ecstatic to see the diversity of the Midlands cultural identity and the unexpected collaboration of artists throughout the day of performances. It was easy to see how the event “connected the community” by the enthusiasm of the audience at having such a concentration of arts groups of all genres, performing and non-performing, in one event.

What is your favorite story to come out of your Connected Communities project?

It’s hard to point out one particular story from the event. Our staff did walk away from the event with an overall sense of joy from the number of families in attendance which demonstrated parents have a keen interest in exposing their children to the arts. It became obvious during the course of the event that the community values the arts and recognizes their importance in our society.

How can the community be involved with your project?

Many parents expressed their desire to involve their children in cultural pursuits and their belief that the arts enhance learning, improve social skills, and encourage the development of strong thinking and reasoning skills. These conversations allowed our staff to engage in discussions about the importance of supporting the arts and the nature of philanthropy.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Many people were surprised to learn that well established organizations like Columbia City Ballet and Trustus Theater are nonprofit organizations, and dependent upon philanthropy for their continued success.  We learned that more work is needed in educating the public about the role of nonprofit organizations in general and about the importance of philanthropic giving.


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