United Arts exceeds goal, teams up

Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Despite the economic slump, the United Arts Council of Greater Greensboro beat its goal for its annual fund drive, thanks to individuals, foundations and corporations making bigger gifts.

Chaired by Angie Orth, vice president for regional development and quality at Advanced Home Care, the drive raised over $1.64 million, exceeding its goal by over $220,000.

The surplus will “give us greater ability to invest in our creative community and to provide the vital services needed by our local arts industry,” says Jeanie Duncan,
president and CEO.

The council is partnering on several initiatives to strengthen the role the arts play in the community, including helping artists become more entrepreneurial, using the arts to address community problems, and mapping plans for funding and identifying sites for public art.

Key to the success of the annual fund drive, Duncan says, were “leadership” gifts of $1,000 or more, which accounted for roughly 80 percent of the total raised.

Foundation giving and corporate giving at that level grew $80,430 and $76,138, respectively, while giving by individuals who gave $5,000 or more grew $79,512.

Those increases offset declines in giving by those who gave less than $1,000, including workplace giving, which accounts for less than 10 percent of the total raised.

And some employers, such as the Guilford County Schools, did not hold workplace campaigns this year.

“I’m certain that our marketplace and our economy impacted that,” Duncan says.

Also helping to offset some of those declines was a $100,000 contribution by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, which gave a total of $250,000 to the arts,
restoring over half the $455,000 in funding for the arts the county contributed in fiscal 2006-07 but eliminated in fiscal 2007-08.

In an initiative funded by the N.C. Arts Council, the United Arts Council has teamed up with the Arts & Science Council in Charlotte to develop a series of workshops designed to help artists grow professionally and grow their business.

Workshops will focus on topics such as creating a business plan, marketing artwork, and building collaborative networks with other artists.

The workshops will begin this fall in Charlotte and next spring in a 12-county region in the Triad in partnership with other local arts councils and the Piedmont Triad Partnership.

“Artists in our region are such a vital part of our creative economy, and we want to provide resources and services to our local artists to help them grow and develop
professionally, and encourage them to continue to live and work professionally in Greensboro and the region,” Duncan says. “Retaining our creative community will help our economy grow.”

A second initiative, in which the United Arts Council is partnering with Salem College, the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, and the High Point Area Arts Council, will aim to develop arts-based projects designed to address community needs such as homelessness, education and health care.

In Los Angeles, for example, a local theater group is working with a local homeless shelter to stage theater productions for homeless audiences, with residents of the shelter working on and performing in the productions.

“It’s really about community building,” Duncan says.

The United Arts Council, in partnership with the City of Greensboro, also is spearheading an effort by the Public Art Commission to develop a master plan for public art.

The plan, to be released next spring, will include an inventory of public art in the community, identify potential sites for future public art, and recommend goals and
identify possible private and public sources for paying for public art.

“Overall, the message from the community that we are hearing loud and clear is that Greensboro cares very much about its arts industry, and our creative community,
and is backing that up with financial investments.”

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