Mayor Steve Williams announced Tuesday, Oct. 14, that the City of Huntington has been named as a Certified Arts Community by the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.
In receiving the designation, Huntington joins a select few communities across the state that have been recognized for capitalizing on the impact that the arts have on economic development, education, civic involvement and quality of life.
“The WVCA recognizes the importance of cooperation between arts and humanities groups, business leaders and jurisdictional agencies,” Renee Margocee, director of arts for the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, wrote in her letter notifying Huntington officials of the designation. “Your efforts to encourage a full and vibrant artistic community in Huntington were clearly evident in your very strong application.”
Williams said Huntington has always been a flourishing arts community as evidenced by its long-established arts institutions and their cultural offerings which Tri-State residents continue to support. The next decade will see unprecedented growth in the arts with additions such as Marshall University’s Visual Arts Center and Cabell County Schools’ expeditionary learning school.
Being recognized as a Certified Arts Community adds to ongoing local efforts to unify resources and promotes more collaboration, Williams said. He cited the recent establishment of the Mayor’s Council for the Arts as a prime example of these efforts.
“The arts have sustained us all in days of peril and have enabled us to soar to unexpected heights during days of jubilance,” Williams said. “The fact that our city is now a certified Arts Community validates the artistic endeavors of all our citizens. The Mayor’s Council for the Arts will seek to advocate and celebrate our artistic passions in such a fashion that will enable our entire community to mutually prosper.”
Margaret Mary Layne, executive director of the Huntington Museum of Art, said the decision to apply for the designation led to the formation of the Huntington Arts Summit. The Summit was the first initiative that brought together various arts organizations as a cohesive group, she said.
“While Huntington has long been an arts community, there is a flourishing creativity that has occurred here in the past several years that has enhanced the long-standing contributions of the Marshall Artists Series, the Huntington Symphony Orchestra and the Huntington Museum of Art,” Layne said. “Creativity is the buzz word for the future in every aspect of our lives. Huntington has creativity in spades.”
Tyson Compton, executive director of the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the application process brought to light the full scope of arts resources that Huntington has to offer. The CVB will use this designation as another tool in promoting the arts and culture scene to visitors, he said.
“One of the next steps that I see is to have an ‘Experience the Arts’ page on the CVB website that will highlight each venue, performance and exhibit that will serve to entice visitors and reinforce locally that the arts are a vibrant part of our mix,” Compton said. “I’m very excited about where this will lead us next.”
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