The power of collaboration can be absolutely amazing and the success of the 2013 Year of the Arts initiative goes a long way in illustrating its power.
The purpose of the initiative was to provide opportunities to educate, engage and expose the community to the benefits of an active arts community and provide opportunities for hands on art experiences. We also wanted to unite the local arts community and provide them with the exposure which is often needed to thrive.
Both segments of our community benefited; the annual city calendar laid out an array of arts activities on a monthly basis, allowing citizens to adequately plan their art adventures. The city calendar also allowed local arts organizations an opportunity to list their activities and offerings, providing them exposure to an audience that previously had not readily existed.
The signature events "Explore, Experience and Live the Arts," "Rock the Ville" and "Passport to the Arts" provided citizens with a variety of free hands-on arts experiences which were made possible through the combined efforts of our local arts organizations, private artists and community donors.
At these events the community participated in sketching, drumming, painting, dance and guitar classes; they met celebrated author and illustrator Will Hillenbrand and created their own illustrations under his tutelage; they enjoyed inaugural concerts by the Westerville Concert Band and the Westerville Symphony in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce Music and Arts Festival.
At Arts Alley, which debuted at the monthly 4th Fridays, the community found a one-stop-shop for arts information and happenings in Westerville along with opportunities to mingle with local artists and purchase their creations again benefitting artists and our citizens for a win-win situation.
The sense of community built through this effort will be far reaching; several of the signature events will become annual efforts, "Rock the Ville" and "Passport to the Arts," Arts Alley has proven to be a destination for those seeking arts information and one-of-a-kind artistic pieces.
The success of Year of the Arts was due to each of the 20-plus organizations involved stepping up and contributing in-kind services and sharing their knowledge within their area of expertise. It united the arts community and laid the groundwork for future collaborations and defined the future of arts in Westerville.
Phyllis Self, recreation operations superintendent for the Westerville Parks and Recreation Department, is a member of the Arts Council of Westerville.