A look back: The year in arts

Dec. 27, 2012 @ 04:00 PM

Editor’s note: With the number of concerts, plays and other arts-related events, in any week there’s more than enough to do in Durham, Chapel Hill and Carrboro. The arts are essential to our civic life. Here are some developments that we at Entertainment & More took note of in 2012.

ArtsCenter changes: After facing an expected $250,000 deficit in 2011, the ArtsCenter in Carrboro ended fiscal year 2012 in the black through a combination of increased grants, memberships and staff reductions. In December, the ArtsCenter laid off Tess Mangum Ocaña, concerts and facilities manager, and creator of the American Roots Series and the Celtic Music Series. In April, the ArtsCenter got new leadership when Art Menius became the new executive director. Next year, the center’s board is scheduled to release a new long-range plan for the center, which, in addition to presenting concerts and theater, includes teaching classes.

Hayti Heritage Center: The Bull Durham Blues Festival, which the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation presents, returned to its home at Durham Athletic Park. While fans were pleased, attendance was down for the 25th annual festival, and rain delayed the opening of the festival’s second night. Hayti held a rain check concert for ticketholders earlier this month. A state audit revealed that the former director of the St. Joseph’s foundation had misappropriated funds from a $300,000 grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation, and that the board would have to pay back a portion of it. The director left in 2011. Since then, the Hayti Heritage Center had operated under an interim director, who left the organization in November.

Music festival sought: The Art of Cool Project, a nonprofit group that formed in 2011 and began presenting concerts at LabourLove Gallery, celebrated its anniversary and presented a second season of concerts, expanding the number of venues. The organization also began taking steps to organize a new music festival for Durham centered on jazz and related styles. The group held several public focus groups to get ideas for the festival. Art of Cool plans to make an announcement in April about the festival.

Public art project: In 2013, 30 Durham citizens will work with local artist Brenda Miller Holmes to create a mural commemorating Durham’s civil rights history. The city’s Cultural Advisory Board granted $20,000 for the pilot project for public art. This project will include some public sessions about civil rights history, which will be used to design the mural. Work on the wall at 112 W. Main St. will begin in February.

New facility for ADF: Charles Reinhart, former director of the American Dance Festival, declared that the festival was no longer forced to be nomadic. Reinhart and other ADF associates were at the opening of a new studio space at 721 Broad St. The opening marked the first time in its 79-year history that the festival has owned rather than rented space. With the new second-story space, ADF began offering movement, ballet and other classes to reach out to the public. The opening of the building also created a new gathering spot for Durham: Chef Amy Tornquist’s Hummingbird Bakery opened on the first floor of the building, and Pamela Gutlon opened an annex of Outsiders Art & Collectibles.

Cows on parade: About 80 fiberglass cows – among them “Alexander Moo-lian Bow-vine,” “Cowpernicus,” and “Sir Walter Cowleigh” – went on public view in Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh in August. Local artists designed the cows in multiple media, and many local businesses sponsored a cow. Vandals – including a few people caught in a “cow tipping” – damaged some of the cows. Most, however, endured normal wear. Earlier this month, many of the cows were taken back to the Golden Belt art studio for touching up. In February, the cows will be auctioned, with the proceeds benefitting N.C. Children’s Hospital.

— Cliff Bellamy, The Herald-Sun