By Katie Benfield
The Watauga County Arts Council has consistently been trying to emphasize the importance of the arts within communities, as well as provide the High Country community with opportunities and experiences involving the arts, since the organization first began.
One of the ways that the Council has done this has been holding the annual Artfull Palette, an event that invites people within the community to come out and celebrate the arts and help support the local programs that the Council has put in place.
The 2017 Artfull Palette will be returning to the High Country this Saturday, Sep. 16, from 6-9 p.m. at the Harvest House in Boone.
“We use this event to celebrate all kinds of arts, not just what people would normally assume ‘art’ is,” Cherry Johnson, Executive Director of the Watauga County Arts Council, said.
The event is also geared towards raising money for programs that the Council has continuously offered to the community in order to provide opportunities and activities in the arts.
“Education in the arts is one of our major focuses as an organization,” Johnson said. “Not only do we offer programs and classes of different art mediums in our own space, but we also take programs out into the community.”
The Watauga County Arts Council offers a variety of different arts programs and opportunities, including music lessons and drawing lessons. The only medium it doesn’t offer a lesson, class or opportunity in is dancing.
“We want to offer programs to people of all ages, not only children,” Johnson said. “We want everyone, children and adults, to be able to come and experience the arts here.”
However, the organization also outreaches into the community, implementing programs in schools, as well.
“We believe strongly in the impact of arts in an individual’s life. Not only does it provide pleasure, joy and growth,” Johnson said, “but for children, it enables them to be better students in their other classes. The arts are a key component in the educational process.”
While the arts do improve children’s success rate in their schools, it also has an impact on people of all ages.
“For adults, we are providing them with the opportunity to explore new things,” Johnson said, “and do something that they may have wanted to do their entire lives.”
Although the Artfull Palette emphasizes the importance and joys of arts throughout lives and communities, the High Country community wasn’t always as involved in the arts as it is now.
“There’s always been an appreciation of the arts here, but I think they have become much more of a staple in every day life,” Johnson said. “When I first started at the Council, the arts were viewed by the community as something that was meant for someone else.”
However, Johnson has definitely noticed the changed in views and opinions in regards to the arts throughout our community.
“Even though there weren’t as many connections to the arts, we have worked very hard to change that,” Johnson said. “More people are getting involved and even people within the government are realizing that the arts are a big contributor to the community and to the economy.”
Johnson even noted that when she picks up a newspaper or a magazine, a big chunk of what is being talked about pertains to arts and art education.
“It didn’t use to be like that,” Johnson said, “but that’s such a positive change.”
That is why the Watauga County Arts Council has worked so hard to bring the annual Artfull Palette to the community each and every year – to help raise money and awareness of the arts so that these changes and these programs can continue to happen for the good of the community and the good for the arts.
At one point, the Artfull Palette used to be a high-end event where the men wore black ties and the waiters wore all white, according to Johnson. However, the event soon dwindled and became a little too casual for the Council to really use to implement art appreciation and programming.
This year, the Council has found a happy medium. All in attendance can choose to wear their party attire or what they consider “artful attire.”
“It gives people a chance to dress in their party attire or dress up artfully,” Johnson said, “and they can interpret that any way that they choose, which usually results in some fun and interesting outfits.”
Along with this, the event will be providing 3 different musical entertainments. The first, Hope Langston, is a Indie folk and pop music singer. She was the recipient of the 2016 Vocal Music Scholarship Award that the Watauga County Arts Council gives out every year.
There will also be a local group called the Standout Trio, which will be providing some classical and folk music with a variety of instruments. Following this group will be The Lucky Strikes, a popular and renowned band throughout the High Country, famous for its classical jazz.
“All of the music is going to be wonderful, and all of it is danceable,” Johnson said, “so we encourage everyone to come and dance.”
During the early performers, and during the change of stage, there will be a silent auction in which provides the opportunity to win a variety of different items, including tickets to both local and far away events, dinner coupons and more stuff like that.
For the items that were donated to the event that aren’t as high in value, there will be a raffle.
“People can buy tickets for the raffle, and then they can take their tickets and place them in the jars of the items that they are interested in winning,” Johnon said. “We will draw tickets out of these jars every so often throughout the night.”
Catering will be done by Moondance Catering, which will provide heavy hors d’oeuvres, and dessert will be served at 8 p.m. There will be non-alcoholic beverages, but wine will be available for each patron if they so please.
Tickets are $60 a person and can be purchased on the Watauga County Arts Council website, by calling Cherry Johnson at 828-264-1789 or by stopping by the Blue Ridge Art Space in Boone.