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Town of Boone Preparing for Jones House Post-WCAC; New Cultural Resources Board Still in Development

By Paul T. Choate

Watauga County Arts Council Executive Director Cherry Johnson and President Mike Wise pose in front of their new home. Photo by Jesse Wood

May 16, 2012. In the wake of Watauga County Arts Council (WCAC) abruptly vacating the Jones House late Monday night, the Town of Boone is now looking forward and trying to get the newly-formed Cultural Resources Board staffed and functional. 

“At the earliest it would be July,” said Andy Ball, Boone Town Council member, of when the Cultural Resources Board would be completely staffed and fully functional. Ball added that the Town has been looking over applications and hopes to fill some staff positions for the board at their meeting on Thursday, May 17.

The WCAC was given a contract by the Town of Boone that would determine how long they would be able to stay in the Jones House. They had three options to choose from. Ultimately, the decision was made to reject the contract.

According to Ball, WCAC sent a letter via mail saying they were rejecting the contract on Friday, May 11. The Town Council did not receive the letter until yesterday. 

The Town of Boone was paying part of WCAC executive director Cherry Johnson’s salary, as well as helping pay for some of the programming. Rejection of the contract ultimately severs, for now, the relationship of the two entities.

“It was kind of a contracted party relationship. That ended when they declined the contract,” said Ball. “There is no relationship between the two entities right now. I’m looking forward to, in the next two or three months, once they go off and handle their internal issues, for them to come back and propose to us some kind of programming collaboration.”

Because of the Town Council not receiving the letter of rejection until May 15, there was some surprise at WCAC’s abrupt departure from the Jones House. 

“It did come as a big surprise to me because I believed them when they said they wanted a cooperative relationship and an easy transition, and I think that’s not what happened,” said Ball. “It’s disappointing, but we look forward to continuing to offer programming whether it’s through the Art’s Council or through some other entity.”

It was the Town of Boone’s desire for WCAC to remain in the Jones House through the summer offering programming, including the popular Concerts on the Lawn, and then vacate the Jones House in September. As it stands now, Concerts on the Lawn and other summer events at the Jones House are up in the air.

“I’m not sure why they declined that offer,” said Ball. “They said from the beginning their interest was to continue offering programming through the year and not disrupt anything. But they did it anyway, so I’m not sure what the reasoning the Arts Council had.”

The Town of Boone has not issued a statement yet regarding the status of the Jones House and the Cultural Resources Board. Ball said he expects a statement will be released within the next week.

The next Town Council meeting is Thursday, May 17, at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 1500 Blowing Rock Rd.

For more information on the Town Council, visit townofboone.net.

For more information on WCAC, visit watauga-arts.org.