COMMUNITY IN ART: Leadership Institue focuses on role of art in community
Published 3:00 am Saturday, August 29, 2015
Vicki Pritchett, Johnson Center for the Arts executive director, attended the 2015 Bill Bates Leadership Institute at Cheaha State Park last week and came away impressed and excited about the strong leadership in the arts statewide.
“The Bill Bates Leadership Institute is a summer retreat for arts professionals and is an opportunity to learn about the many wonderful things that are going on in the arts all across Alabama,” Pritchett said. “The institute was an opportunity to be inspired and motivated by those with innovative ideas and to also share your own ideas.”
Dr. Tonea Stewart, tenured professor and dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Alabama State University; Jo Jo Terry, the digital marketing director for the Alabama Tourism Department and Don Noble, whose book reviews air during the “Morning Edition” of APT, were among the featured speakers at the institute.
“All of the speakers on Thursday were excellent and I was very interested in the importance they place on social media as a way of getting the word about the arts out to the public, especially the younger audience,” Pritchett said.
The closing session of the three-day institute featured mayors from Alabama’s three geographic tiers, Tommy Battle from Huntsville, Todd Strange from Montgomery and Jason A. Reeves from Troy.
“Jason’s presentation was outstanding,” Pritchett said. “He represented Troy extremely well. He spoke about his personal three A’s of the arts — awareness, appreciation and advocacy.
“Jason said when he thinks about the arts, he always thinks of Holman and Ethel Johnson, who were friends of his grandparents, and his friendship with them. The Johnsons were the ones who helped him understand the importance of the arts through the photographs of Holman Johnson, who was a noted Troy photographer.”
Pritchett said Reeves’ “appreciation” of the arts and what the arts mean to a community, developed when the City of Troy was recruiting CGI.
“Jason said a representative group from CGI came to Troy and they were impressed that such a small town and community could have such an incredible art center,” Pritchett said. “He said the art center was pivotal in bringing CGI to Troy and that he understands the role the arts can play in the future economic development of Troy.”
Reeves is now an “advocate” for the arts, Pritchett said.
“Jason wants to promote and grow the arts in our community as a way developing the economy, improving the quality of life for our citizens and revitalizing our downtown area.
“Through the teachers who attend the Johnson Center’s ArtBridges Teacher Workshop, underserved students in the city and county are exposed to the arts. Jason did a great job letting others know the importance that Troy places on the arts.”
Pritchett said Huntsville Mayor Battle places a high value on arts and education and, as a result, more than 10,000 jobs have been recruited for his city.
“Mayor Strange also gave credit to arts for the role they played in the recruitment of Hyundai,” she said. “The Hyundai delegation was invited to dinner at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and had breakfast at the Shakespeare Theater. The Korean culture places a high value on quality of life. Mayor Strange said the arts in Montgomery were a factor in the recruitment of Hyundai.”
From beginning to end, the theme of the leadership institute was the role the arts play in the quality of life for Alabama residents and in the future economic development of the state, Pritchett said.
The Bill Bates Leadership Institute was made possible by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Pritchett expressed appreciation to the NEA and ASCA for the opportunity to be a part of the professional growth event.