Whether it is an evening spent at The Old Brick Playhouse watching a performance of local talent, listening to world-renowned musicians on the Augusta Heritage stage, perusing the unique designs at Artists at Work or taking in an art show or concert at the Randolph County Community Arts Center, residents of Elkins are surrounded by artistic and cultural opportunities. Now, thanks to the work of the RCCAC, more people will know of the city's artistic abilities as Elkins joins only two other West Virginia towns in becoming a Certified Arts Community.
The West Virginia Certified Arts Community designation is for communities that have realized the benefits of cooperation between arts and humanities groups, business leaders and jurisdictional agencies. The designation offers no monetary compensation but allows a community to develop signage and other promotional measures.
"Elkins is our fastest growing arts community in the state," said Randall Reid Smith, commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. "It is rich with historic buildings and cultural assets."
(CU and The Inter-Mountain/Grant Jones)
ARTISTIC ASSETS — Randolph County Community Arts Center Executive Director Beth King cuts mats for a student art project. King submitted the application that has now resulted in Elkins being designated as a Certified Arts Community. © The Inter-Mountain, all rights reserved.
The application for the Certified Arts Community designation was assembled and submitted earlier this year by the Randolph County Community Arts Center. In the application, RCCAC Executive Director Beth King praised the cooperation throughout Elkins' art community as well as the city government. This dedication, she noted, is a reflection on the "treasured place the arts hold within our community."
"The very existence of our own organization is a testament to this," she also wrote. "We are very fortunate to be part of an arts community where people work together to promote the arts across the board."
One of the key factors in being selected for the designation is a resolution by the local governing body supporting the arts in a specific community. Elkins Mayor Duke Talbott called the designation "wonderful" saying it is a great reflection of the work that has been going on in the town. Talbott signed a resolution in support of the designation earlier this year.
"I'm excited about this designation," Talbott said. "It's a great opportunity for our town. It's one of those quality-of-life issues that really sets Elkins apart, and could bring a lot of people to our area."
Members of the RCCAC board of directors also were pleased with the recognition. Chairman Victor Thacker called the certification an "official sign."
"We are all very excited about this special recognition from the state," Thacker said. "It's an official signal that Elkins is a distinctive arts community. And, of course, I'm especially proud of the arts center staff for taking the lead in submitting the application."
The request highlighted the activities of local organizations including the Augusta Heritage Center, Davis & Elkins College, The Old Brick Playhouse and ArtsBank, as well as the RCCAC.
"We are a community united by the arts," said Joyce Rossbach, the executive director of the Augusta Heritage Center and a member of the RCCAC board of directors. "Because of our vibrant arts community, people are drawn to this town."
Also included in the application was a listing of the schools in the community that make annual applications to West Virginia Commission on the Arts for Arts in Education projects. Detailed in the application is how the community has benefited by involving artists on planning committees for beautification projects and other civic projects, and how the community practices coordinated cultural planning.
An important requirement of the application process is to describe the growth of a local arts council. The Elkins application detailed the founding and development of the RCCAC, which was incorporated in August 2000 to save the historic St. Brendan Catholic Church and fill a need for arts education and performances in Elkins and the surrounding areas.
Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Robbie Morris said the designation will strengthen the growth of the arts community.
"I think it will raise the stature of culture and art offerings in our community," Morris said. "I believe it will help define Elkins as an arts center in West Virginia."
"Elkins can be very proud of earning this designation," said Jeanne Mozier, author of "Way Out in West Virginia" and a former member of the WVCA. "To the world, it identifies Elkins as a place to find quality arts activities."
The RCCAC is a non-profit organization promoting and supporting the arts in Randolph County and the surrounding areas. The RCCAC is supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the National Endowment of the Arts and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Call the RCCAC office at 304-637-2355 or visit www.randolpharts.org for information on its arts education classes, exhibits, concert series, and children's concert series.