By Amy Taylor
Art is essential, and we’re fortunate to have organizations in our area that support the arts. The Prince William County Arts Council is one of those organizations that knows the world needs more beauty and expression. That’s why the council helps all areas of the arts thrive in our community. Here’s how the council is keeping the arts alive through its funding and support.
Arts Alive! is an annual event the council holds at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. This free, family-friendly event showcases the full spectrum of the arts in our county.
The event has something for everyone, showcasing the wide range of arts Prince William has to offer. It includes a variety of short performances on five stages, both indoors and outdoors. Performances highlight modern dance, ballet, belly dancing, Broadway tunes and poetry. There are also arts displays and vendors, food trucks and hands-on activities for kids.
This year Arts Alive! will be held on Sunday, September 15 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Hylton Performing Arts Center on George Mason University’s Science and Technology campus.
Grants to Fund a Variety of Arts
The council’s logo is a five-petal flower, encompassing dance, music, theatre, literary arts and visual arts. Serving the greater Prince William County area, including Manassas and Manassas Park, the council is part of the county’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
Much of the funding for the arts in our community comes through grants. One example is the general operating grant. If you’ve experienced the beauty of the Manassas Ballet Theatre, which is ranked number 55 in the nation and has been featured nationally and internationally, be thankful for general operating
grants from the county.
County funding for the arts occurs mostly through these general operating grants, which are intended to provide a base of operating support to community, non-profit arts organizations that provide valuable programs and services. These grants help ensure diverse artistic offerings for all residents and contribute to the permanence of such organizations as the Manassas Ballet Theatre.
Council Chair Darren Council said, “The entire board is grateful to residents and the Board of Supervisors for their continued support.”
New arts organizations may be able to receive funding for a base of operating support through new and emerging grant funds. These funds are available to non-profit arts organizations with founding documents, a board of directors and organizational bylaws. Organizations aren’t required to have an affiliation with the PWC Arts Council for either of these grants.
Current members of the PWC Arts Council are eligible for technical assistant grants. These funds are not part of the county budget and are paid 100 percent from membership dues. Historically these grants have been as high as $500, given to members who meet certain requirements.
Kathleen K. Seefeldt Awards for Arts Excellence
The council currently recognizes local artists and supporters at an annual event called the Kathleen K. Seefeldt Awards for Arts Excellence. The latest awards ceremony was held May 30, 2019, at the Hylton Performing Arts Center.
The council recognized and celebrated artists, arts organizations, volunteers, educators and businesses who supported the cultural arts in the greater Prince William area for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
Winners of 2019 Kathleen K. Seefeldt Awards for Arts Excellence were:
Outstanding Individual Artist – Rafik Hegab, Virginia National Ballet
Outstanding Arts Organization – Manassas Symphony Orchestra
Outstanding Educator of the Arts – Lawanda Council
Outstanding Business Supporter of the Arts – Compton & Duling
Outstanding Volunteer of the Arts – John Dutton
Outstanding Patron of the Arts – Kathleen Gurchiek
Pioneer Award for Lifetime Contributions to the Arts – Jim Gallagher
Prince William County Poet Laureate
In recent years, the PWC Arts Council has expanded its focus to the literary arts. Its poet laureate initiative began in 2014 and awards a County Poet Laureate every two years. Natalie Potell is serving as the 2018-2020 County Poet Laureate.
In addition, a poetry event occurs every year on the Sunday before Columbus Day. This year the event “In the Company of Laureates” will be held on Oct. 13 at the Woodbridge NOVA Campus Lakeside Theater and will showcase local poets as well as laureates from neighboring states.
Seeking to Grow
Amelia May, current vice chair and board member since 2016, envisions the council having a broader membership among local visual artists with future initiatives involving public art projects.
Nancy Kyme serves as treasurer on the council’s executive board and has been a member since 2013. She would like to see the PWC Art Council’s membership expand greatly, particularly among business members in the community.
“If more businesses would support the arts by becoming dues-paying members, the council would have more grant funds available for smaller organizations and individual artists who do not qualify for the general operating grants. Imagine how much more we could grow the arts in Prince William County if every
business became a member,” Kyme said.
Susan Landess has served on the executive board since 2016. She is on the council’s strategic planning committee and hopes to see more residents of all ages feeling connected to the arts and valuing them.
“If the arts in Prince William County reflect the diversity of our stories and all our people and communities, and our artists and arts organizations are recognized locally, regionally and nationally for their work, the arts in our county will be resilient and healthy to the benefit of all,” Landess said.
Learn more about the Arts Council and how to get involved at pwcartscouncil.org.
Amy Taylor ([email protected]) is a freelance writer and editor. She earned her BLS in English from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.