The Union County Community Arts Council (UCCAC) will hold its seventh annual Night of the Arts at the Union County Agricultural and Conference Center at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 21.
UCCAC Executive Director Barbara Faulk said the Night of the Arts celebration shows appreciation to businesses, community and government organizations for supporting the council.
“The council’s partnerships with private businesses and government organizations provide funds for arts programs in the schools and county, and funds individual school and community art project grants,” she said.
She stressed the Night of the Arts event is not a fundraiser but rather a celebration of support. The ticket costs go toward paying for the $15,000 event. Some of the UCCAC’s major business, community and government partners include Union County Public Schools, City of Monroe, Union County, N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, Duke Energy Foundation, Wells Fargo, Hugh & Cutie Moore and Carolinas Healthcare System.
Arts Council funds Union County Public Schools arts programs
Faulk, who’s been the executive director since 1987, said last year the arts council raised $333,000 and 92 percent of the money raised went directly into providing arts programs and grants for Union County Public Schools and the community.
The arts council supports 56 schools in Union County by providing arts-related education opportunities, such as programs in which students get to attend live theatrical performances. For example, in February and March, some Union County elementary schools will get to see “The Emperor’s New Clothes” presented by Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. Others will see Lightwire’s production of “The Ugly Duckling & The Tortoise & The Hare” at Wingate University.
Another way the arts council funds school arts programs is through grants. Every year schools, teachers and community artists have the opportunity to apply for small grants for individual projects through the arts council. This year $18,500 was awarded to 17 different schools and teacher art projects.
Central Academy of Technology and Arts’ (CATA) Technical Theatre teacher Jeff Weif received a $500 grant to purchase lumber for an introductory project on stage set-building, for which ninth through twelfth graders will build miniature frames for flats (stage walls) and birdhouses. He said this project teaches them how to use the machinery to make miter cuts and wood joints.
While this may sound like a simple project, Weif said, this teaches them the primary skills needed for constructing sets. CATA students construct all their sets for theatrical productions, he said.
“Arts sometimes fall to the wayside,” he said. Theatre is extremely expensive to produce.”
Last year, the arts council also provided $10,000 to buy a light console for CATA’s theater. Weif said this gave his students access to modern automated lighting, which in turn, helped one student receive a $200,000 scholarship to Carnegie Mellon University.
“It’s extremely important to have this organization. It’s the way I get funds for my classes. With the way education funding goes, we have to explore outside funding or we would not have any funding,” he said.
“The arts council stands in the gap, providing Union County Public Schools with integrated and culturally rich arts programs. When other schools have to worry, we don’t – we couldn’t do it without them,” said Dr. John Jones, assistant superintendent of instructional programs for UCPS.
Help from Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo’s Corporate Communication Manager Josh Dunn said Wells Fargo donated almost $10,000 in three grants to the arts council this year.
“Wells Fargo is proud to support the Union County Community Art Council,” said Leigha Smith, community banking area president of Charlotte South for Wells Fargo. “We take pride in supporting arts programs in Monroe, as well as the arts and culture in all of our local communities where we do business.”
Dave Phillips, Duke Energy’s District Manager for Union County and six other counties said they fund the UCCAC through community development funds and grants via the Duke Energy Foundation. “The programs (Faulk) puts together have widespread appeal to the community, a lot is associated with arts in schools and gives back to the community.”
What’s happening at ‘Night of the Arts’
The Night of the Arts event includes cocktails, dinner and entertainment from Big Swing and the Ballroom Blasters, a Grammy-award winning, 17-piece band featuring five vocalists that combines swing, jazz, soul and pop for three hours of non-stop entertainment. Dinner will be catered by Kate Clyde’s Catering Creations, of Marshville.
A lifetime achievement award will be presented during the event to recognize an integral difference maker in the local art community. Last year’s winner was Ginger Heath, a member of the Union County Playmakers, who’s been a part of community theatre her whole life.
At the event, there also will be a mini-gallery of 20 to 30 photographs enlarged to 20-by-24-inch posters that tell the story of some of the arts programs made possible through funds donated to UCCAC.
Tickets cost $110 per person and are by reservation only. For more information, call the UCCAC at 704-283-2784.