For this week’s Community Conversations our host ST Billingsley sat down with Chair of the Prince William Arts Council Sheyna Burt, to talk about upcoming arts festivals, and why the organization is so crucial for the continuance of the arts in Prince William County.
Q: Tell me about the Arts Council.
A: The Prince William County Arts Council is an organization within the Department of Parks and Recreation in the county. We serve artists, and arts lovers, and arts organizations. We help them to do their business better, we help them to have performance and marketing opportunities.
Q: Why is the Arts Council important to Prince William?
A: Anyone who’s ever tried to actually run an arts organization – say a non-profit – will tell you that there’s a big gap between what the ticket sales will cover, and what your bills actually require.
And so what we do as the Arts Council is to help bridge that gap. So we help them to be more efficient – to run themselves more efficiently. We help them to get more exposure to the public. And we help them to just be better educated about board governance issues, we do workshops, we have community activities.
The value though is, I think, that we really do support the existence of the arts in the county, period. Their economic development opportunities that come from having a strong arts community, the educational benefits for children who are exposed to arts, and then we’ve found that a lot of our adult members, whether they’re professional artists or not, they just find the arts here in the county to really be a cathartic way of having a well-rounded life.
Q: What events do you have coming up?
A: We have so many. We have made a concerted effort this year to be very busy. So we have a series of workshops – we specifically have three, I’ll call them street festivals, coming up.
April 30 we’ll be partnering with Northern Virginia Communtiy College [at the] Woodbridge campus for the ‘Woodbridge Alive!’ festival. So we’ll be using the Seefeldt building, and also the new workforce building, and we’ll just have arts, and food, and music, and it’s going to be a good time.
Then on [May 6] we’ll be in Manassas doing another street festival. We’ll close down some streets, we’ll have people in stores, we’ll have people outside.
And then on June 18, we’re going to have the third of our three festivals this fiscal year, and that will be at Tackett’s Mill. Again, in addition to the normal arts offerings – the small ensembles, and large ensembles, and book signings – we actually are going to crown Prince William’s Poet Laureate.
We are actually the only county in Virginia that has a Poet Laureate, and the Arts Council sponsors that with the assistance of Write by the Rails.
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