The arts abound in Westerville, through community activities and classes, and a group of community leaders are working to make sure no arts opportunity goes unnoticed in 2013.

The arts abound in Westerville, through community activities and classes, and a group of community leaders are working to make sure no arts opportunity goes unnoticed in 2013.

This year has been declared "The Year of the Arts" in Westerville, and activities celebrating the city's arts community will kickoff Jan. 12.

"There are so many things that were going on here in the community, and there needed to be some recognition to the arts," said Westerville Recreation Superintendent Phyllis Self, who helped lead the Year of the Arts committee. "It's a time for people to come out and get themselves immersed in the arts."

Year of the Arts activities will begin with "Explore, Experience and Live the Arts" from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 12 at the Westerville Public Library, 126 S. State St., and the Westerville Parks and Recreation Department Program Center, 64 E. Walnut St.

The event will provide participants with demonstrations and hands on experience with a variety of art types, including line dancing, sketching, African drumming and guitar playing.

"We're always in awe of artists who have mastered the paintbrush or the violin, so we thought we could create opportunities where anyone and everyone could come to experience hands-on art, everything from pottery to learning how to sketch with pastels," said Westerville Public Library Marketing Specialist Linda Wilkins, who helped organize the event.

"The whole theme, or the whole intent behind 2013 Year of the Arts is to encourage community members of all experience, of all levels of experience in expertise and fears to try their hand at a new craft."

"Explore, Experience and Live the Arts" is open to both children and adults and will include arts opportunities for younger children, such as making edible crafts and tissue-paper collages.

The Year of the Arts kickoff will continue later that same evening, with "Rhythm and Arts: An Evening of Dancing, Art and Delectables" from 7 to 11 p.m. Jan. 12 at Embassy Suites, 2700 Corporate Exchange Drive.

Event patrons will eat hors d'oeuvres and pastries by local bakers while listening to music, observing local artists at work and viewing exhibitions by local artists.

"It's the celebratory aspect of the arts within our own community. We are so blessed in Westerville to have so many different arts opportunities, whether it be dance or music, visual arts, drama," said event chairwoman Elizabeth Saltzgiver.

"It's going to be a gigantic party, it really is. It's just going to be a huge celebration of all of the arts coming together. It's excitement for the coming year."

Six leading contributors in Westerville's varied arts community also will be saluted at the event.

Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased in advance at the Westerville Community Center, 350 N. Cleveland Ave.

Also in recognition of the Year of the Arts, Westerville's annual city calendar highlights local arts organization and arts events through the year, Self said.

The Arts Council of Westerville, the Westerville Public Library and the ThisWeek Westerville News & Public Opinion also will stage the seventh annual Celebrate the Arts Writing Contest in the spring.

Again open to local writers from kindergarteners through adults, entries to the contest are due in early March. Winners will be honored at the library in late March and the works of first-place winners will be published in the News & Public Opinion in April.

Also to celebrate the Year of the Arts, and in recognition of its 40th anniversary, the Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce's annual Music & Arts Festival will include expanded events, such as a performance by the Westerville Concert Band on the Friday of the arts festival weekend, a Saturday-night performance by the Westerville Symphony and a larger children's area.

Other Year of the Arts events will include "Rock the Ville" on Aug. 10 in Uptown; a youth talent show, titled "Passport to the Arts and the Rising Stars," Sept. 21; and a community theater production of The Wizard of Oz, audition packets for which will be available at the Community Center beginning Jan. 21.

Mayor Kathy Cocuzzi, who also was active in planning the Year of the Arts, said she's excited for all of the events planned for 2013, and she said all of the events are evidence of the commitment of the arts community and the willingness of arts organizations to work together.

"I'm proud of the way the entire arts community responded and came forward and shared everything," Cocuzzi said. "All of the offerings we have are going to be fun for people of all ages. ... I hope they come out and enjoy it all."