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Arts council upbeat

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By Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Having concluded its annual fund drive and inaugural ArtsIgnite festival, the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County is gearing up for its 2003 drive and a second festival in March 2004.

“I’m quite encouraged,” says Robert Chumbley, the council’s president and CEO. “Private-sector support in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County for the arts is as strong, if not stronger, than ever before.”

Despite the sputtering economy, he says, fundraising for the drive and festival held their own.

The drive raised $1.95 million, falling $39,500 short of its goal but offsetting more than half of $113,000 in cuts from the state, county and city.

This year’s goal was $500,000 less than last year’s but 1 percent more than was raised.

Individual gifts of $1,000 or more grew 21 percent from last year’s drive, while corporate gifts grew 8 percent to $660,600.

While a goal has not yet been set for the 2003 drive, which begins in January, Chumbley expects the goal will exceed the total raised in this year’s drive.

“I want to continue to challenge people,” he says. “If you don’t challenge them and don’t ask them for support, you won’t get it.”

Will Spence, state CEO for the Carolinas at Wachovia and chairman of the corporate campaign in this year’s drive, has agreed to chair the corporate campaign again next year.

The council has not named a chair for next year’s individual campaign, which this year was headed by community volunteer Robbi Irvin.

The council this year also generated $670,000 for ArtsIgnite, a 16-day arts festival that filled more than 14,000 seats and produced an estimated surplus of $8,000 to $15,000, Chumbley says.

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