Waxhaw group hopes to become a nonprofit
The pedestals still sit in downtown Waxhaw, even though they’re empty. Previously, the town had commissioned sculptures to be placed around the area, but over the last few years, town employees and some artists have taken those pieces down, bit by bit.
The loss of that art has re-energized the Waxhaw artistic community to bring art back, and leaders have a new policy, plan and local volunteer groups.
“When I got here about four years ago, there was no policy on public art in the downtown,” Waxhaw Manager Michael McLaurin said. “We had some art, some metal structures with sharp edges. Our risk assessment said unless there’s something around it, we won’t cover you.”
Over the next few years, pieces of art disappeared, removed by the town or the artist, with nothing to take its place.
Then last spring, the town created a public art policy, addressing permanent versus temporary art, how and who would be responsible for upkeep of art pieces and what kinds of art are allowed in the downtown area. Following that, local residents created the Waxhaw Arts Council to financially support the development of artists.
“Waxhaw used to be a destination for people to see nice things,” Waxhaw Arts Council President Lisa Thornton said. “We want to bring art back to the downtown area, to revive that spirit.”
Created in 2009, the council has been slowly making the transition to nonprofit status, working to raise the funds it needs to file paperwork.
“Once you’re a nonprofit, you become eligible for grants, to help artists, to fund projects and build an artistic community,” Thornton said.
But the council needs an estimated $5,000 to fully convert to nonprofit status, and the six-member arts council remains several thousand short.
“We can bring art back to Waxhaw. People want to create, but they need help,” Thornton said. “The arts council can lend a hand, when we’re fully up and running.”
Two months ago, as part of the new movement to bring art back to the downtown, local sculptor Tom Risser created a model commemorating the 2010 train derailment. The Beautification Committee is currently examining that sculpture, which could become the town’s first new downtown art.
McLaurin said the town hopes to work with other artists in 2011, building off the efforts of groups like the Arts Council.
“I’m looking forward to (this project) as it goes ahead,” McLaurin said. “Maybe some art goes on rotation in downtown. Maybe say a piece stays in town for six months, and we become a seedbed for new and local artists.”
The arts council is anxious to see how the community supports its fundraiser Saturday at Burch Studios. “There will be more fundraisers in the future,” Thornton said. “People will see we’re serious about what we’re doing.”