A permanent home for Shakori Hills

Dec. 13, 2013 @ 03:52 PM

The future is looking bright for the Shakori Hills Community Arts Center. Earlier this week, the organization, which now puts on the twice-yearly Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance and the Hoppin’ John Fiddlers Convention, announced that it had bought the land on which it holds these events in Chatham County.

That is good news for the already vibrant arts scene in this region. The organization’s members said that the purchase means Shakori Hills will be able to improve the site, which it had been renting, and offer more arts and cultural opportunities. The additional offerings are intriguing.
Shakori Hills has created a niche in the local and national concert scene by featuring traditional folk music, the blues, along with world music, and modern folk-indy rock. It has become a gathering place for local musicians.
But the purchase and the reasoning behind it point to a larger mission that the organizers see the Shakori Hills Community Arts Center playing in the community. “It is a cultural arts center,” said Carol Peppe Hewitt, who is a longtime volunteer with the organization. “There could be music workshops, dance workshops.” The goal is for it to be an arts center that will serve the community year-round.
The organization seems to have a very clear vision that it wants to be more than a home for a music festival, and it is taking the necessary steps to get there. Others seem to share that vision, considering that local investors were willing to put up $10,000 minimum to help purchase the 73-acre site in Silk Hope.
We shouldn’t overlook that owning the land will allow the organizers to build on the success of the GrassRoots Festival, which is usually held over a four-day period and allows camping for concertgoers who come to see as many as 50 bands, as well as the Hoppin’ John Fiddlers Convention.
But the ways in which having ownership will enable Shakori Hills to further develop other arts programming will benefit not just in Chatham, but Orange, Wake and Durham. We are looking forward to seeing more details about the direction Shakori Hills will take on that front.
Given the building boom that appears to be in Chatham’s future, it was wise for the organizers to act now, before land prices begin to escalate. Their actions ensure that the arts center has a long-term future in the region’s cultural scene.