Arts council shapes itself to community
The New Albany Arts Council will celebrate its past 19 years of cultural and arts programming while planning new experiences for the community in its 20th season.
"I think we are well respected in the community and I think we have to grow with the community," said Kathy Mayhorn, arts council president. "If you don't change and grow with the community, you'll become extinct."
Mayhorn was there in the beginning, in 1993, with a group of people who formed the arts council.
Local artist Harold Cooper, another founding member who serves on the arts council's advisory board, saw a need for arts in the community, said his wife, Faye.
"We saw a strong need for the arts to expand," Faye Cooper said. "Harold and I are very proud to see how the New Albany Arts Council has grown with their leadership of the board. We are on the advisory board and very happy to still be a part of the New Albany Arts Council."
One of Harold Cooper's projects was a summer art camp for youth that attracted between 150 and 200 students in the mid to late 1990s.
"It was a lot smaller community then and there were not as many things going on," Mayhorn said.
The camp provided a well-rounded arts experience, but attendance began to lag in recent years, with the school district's IMPACT summer classes and other opportunities available.
Mayhorn said organizers canceled the arts camp in 2010.
Another program established when the arts council began, the Harvest the Arts Festival, was held in October at Doran's Farm Market on Babbitt Road.
The arts council recently canceled it, too, after last October's event.
Mayhorn said as state regulations for vendors changed and on-site food preparation became more difficult, festival attendance waned, much like the summer arts camp.
"At the time we started, there was no Founders Day (celebration) and a lot of businesses weren't here," Mayhorn said.
Despite the two programs that have run their course, many more have thrived in the community, including the annual Concert on the Commons, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sunday, June 30, on the New Albany High School green.
The free show will feature the New Albany Chorus and New Albany Community Band, jazz pianist Scott Sadoff and pianist Kathleen Sadoff, dancers from the Broadway Bound Dance Centre and members of the arts council's junior musical production.
Robert Westbrook will serve as master of ceremonies for the concert.
The junior musical production is by far the most popular arts council program, director Josh McKinney said.
"Of all of our programming, the junior musical has grown the most, both in participation and in audience, the community that sees the show," McKinney said.
This year's junior musical is The Little Mermaid, based on the 1989 animated movie of the same name.
McKinney said the story was altered slightly for the stage but people will recognize all six main characters.
Princess Ariel will be played by Jordan Burckard, 14, of New Albany; Ursula will be played by Bailey Maholm, 15, of Dublin; Prince Eric will be played by Brennan Johnson, 14, of Gahanna; Sebastian will be played by Colin Sproule, 14, of New Albany; Flounder will be played by Mitchell Kallner, 11, of New Albany; and King Triton will be played by Jacob Naiman, 15, of Gahanna.
McKinney said practices began last week for the 45 cast members.
Performances of The Little Mermaid are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. July 12 and 13 and 3:30 p.m. July 14 at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts in New Albany.
Tickets are $10, sold as general admission at the door the day of the show.
A pre-party for children ages 5 to 10 will be at 6 p.m., before the July 13 performance.
McKinney said the first 25 children to sign up and purchase a $25 ticket at naarts.org will get to meet the cast, have a backstage tour, eat snacks and make a craft. The fee includes a ticket to the performance.
The arts council's final event of the season is Oct. 27, when the New Albany Community Band and New Albany Chorus partner with New Albany High School a cappella singers for the annual Night Moves concert, which typically has a spooky theme.
Mayhorn said this has been a transitional year for the arts council, adding new members to its advisory board and considering new fundraisers to expand programming.
"The musical has really grown and has gotten so professional we're looking to either expand on it or add workshops," Mayhorn said.
She said the arts council could add a fall junior musical or an adult community theater.
"We're looking to see what suits the needs of the community," Mayhorn said. "If we want to grow, we have to raise our funding level, as well."
The arts council receives grants annually from the city of New Albany and the New Albany Community Foundation and raises other funds to support its budget.
"It's amazing when you think of the new things they do every year," Mayor Nancy Ferguson said. "We're fortunate to have the New Albany Arts Council lead us in the arts arena."