A! Magazine for the Arts

Ann Holler is the chairperson for the magazine's volunteer editorial committee. She is also a board member of Arts Alliance Mountain Empire, publisher of <em>A! Magazine</em>.

Ann Holler is the chairperson for the magazine's volunteer editorial committee. She is also a board member of Arts Alliance Mountain Empire, publisher of A! Magazine.

A! Magazine for the Arts Celebrates 15 Years

November 15, 2009

Ann Holler spoke at the 15th anniversary reception for A! Magazine for the Arts on November 5, 2009, and on November 12 to the Lead Bristol class. Following is her presentation:

I have been asked to speak about Arts Alliance Mountain Empire and A! Magazine for the Arts. I will explain what these entities are and how they originated. I'll also talk about the arts and why we think the arts are important. I will tell you how Bristol compares with nearby towns and cities. And then I will leave you with a challenge.

To understand how A! Magazine for the Arts and Arts Alliance Mountain Empire arrived where they are today, let's imagine two separate timelines that eventually will converge.

The first timeline began more than 15 years ago in the halls of Bristol Herald Courier, where Art Powers, publisher at that time, conceived the idea of an arts magazine. He called together a volunteer committee representing various arts interests. These volunteers, together with newspaper staff, published the first issue of A! Magazine for the Arts in November 1994, with Angela Wampler as the original writer. A! Magazine continued for ten years as a publication of Bristol Herald Courier and the volunteer editorial committee.

The second timeline began in 2002, when Nancy DeFriece, then an appointed member of the Tennessee Arts Commission, urged local artists to form an arts council. At that time, both Johnson City and Kingsport had active arts council. Bristol had no arts council, although there had been previous attempts to form one.

As a result of conversations with many folks involved in the arts and after assistance from the Tennessee Arts Commission, Arts Alliance Mountain Empire (AAME) was founded in 2003. It was first chartered in Tennessee in 2003 and then incorporated in Virginia in 2005. The IRS granted 501(c)3 status in 2004. Those of us involved in the founding of AAME learned that an arts council can be anything it wants to be; but there are three main types: presenting (putting on concerts and plays) , granting (like a United Way for the arts), and service. AAME became an organization primarily offering service to artists and arts organizations in our region. AAME's mission is to nurture, advocate, and celebrate the arts. AAME's goals are threefold: (1) to support artists and arts organizations throughout the Mountain Empire. (2) To promote collaboration among artists, arts organizations and the community; and (3) to improve recognition of the aesthetic, educational and economic value of the arts.

AAME has undertaken various large and small projects, such as assisting with the planning for Bristol's Sesquicentennial celebration and providing some arts opportunities that previously did not exist. One of these has been a juried youth art show, first held in March 2008. Another more visible project has been the placement of sculpture in downtown Bristol. AAME's Art in Public Places committee has been so successful in this project that they are spinning off to become a separate organization and are now seeking their own 501(c)3 status.

The two timelines converged when Arts Alliance Mountain Empire adopted A! Magazine for the Arts in early 2004. This has been AAME's largest project and the one most central to our mission of service. AAME is able to publish A! Magazine because Bristol Herald Courier prints the magazine and delivers thousands of copies to newspaper subscribers as a donation to the community. Publisher Carl Esposito and many staff members help bring the magazine to you each month. Other generous supporters have been Bristol Regional Medical Center, Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and our wonderful advertisers.

Even with the significant contributions of Bristol Herald Courier, the magazine would not be possible without the volunteer committee, which completes long-range planning, editorial duties, and proofreading on a monthly basis. In addition, we undertake the sale of advertising under the leadership of Ann Goodpasture, a marketing professional who volunteers her expertise on behalf of A! Magazine. Volunteers sell all of our ads. All proceeds from these ads pay for the expenses of the magazine and for the general budget of AAME. The A! Magazine Committee also helps with circulation. Volunteer Carl Clarke oversees the distribution by volunteers of more than 3,500 copies that you can find in many locations. In Fiscal Year 2008-2009, members of this committee reported more than 2,900 hours of volunteer service.

The generosity of Bristol Herald Courier and the work of the volunteer committee support the magazine. However, the key person is Angela Wampler, who has been the writer for 15 years, and the graphic designer since 2004. She interviews significant artists, writes feature stories, assigns photo shoots, collects press releases and photos from the community, does page layouts, supervises our part-time website manager, and performs many other duties related to the total scope of the magazine.

This month, in November 2009, we are celebrating the 15th anniversary of A! Magazine for the Arts. Through the past 15 years, A! Magazine has expanded its outreach. In addition to the monthly printed issues, you may now find arts news online on our website, in weekly email digests, and on Facebook.

A! Magazine for the Arts, we believe, is a unique publication, the result of exceptional partnerships of many people who care about the arts and who value the place of the arts in our communities. We strive to educate readers about the arts, to inform readers about important people in the arts, to nurture the creativity that is all around us, and to help our regional arts organizations fill their auditoriums and exhibit halls.

In 2003 when I accepted the Tennessee Governor's award for Arts Leadership on behalf of A! Magazine, I said then about the volunteer committee:

We come from various artistic disciplines to learn the nuts and bolts of journalism. We put aside our paint brushes, our pens, our musical instruments, and our costumes, to work for the common goal of promoting all the arts in our part of the world.

The question may arise: Why do we work so hard and spend so much time promoting and nurturing the arts? Why has Angela Wampler stayed with the job for 15 years? Why does Bristol Herald Courier continue to donate A! Magazine to the community?

Because we all realize that The Arts Change Lives.

The logo of the Tennessee Arts Commission is "The Arts: Changing Lives," and we chose this as the theme for our 15th anniversary issue.

How Do the Arts Change Lives? The Tennessee Arts Commission tells us five ways in which the arts change lives:

1. The arts change lives through education. (a) Arts integration is related to significant gains in reading scores for grades 3 - 5, according to a 2003 study. (b) The College Board reports that students with four years of music coursework scored an average of 49 points higher on the combined verbal and math portions of the SAT, a benefit that rises with more years of music study. (c) Visual arts students score an average of 47 points higher on the math and 31 points higher on the verbal sections of the SAT.

2. The arts change lives through cultural tourism.
(a) A 2001 travel industry survey revealed that, as favorite tourist activities, museums ranked third behind shopping and outdoor activities. No. 4 and 5 were historical places and cultural events, more than sports, gambling, nightlife, and amusement parks. (b) 92.7 million American traveling in the U. S. in 2000 included cultural activities in their trip. (c) Approximately 5.2 million Tennesseans and tourists attended arts events in 2001-2002.

3. The arts change lives through economic development and business.
In 2001 the Arts and Business Quarterly said the following: (a) The arts employ 2.7 percent of the American workforce, more than agriculture. (b) The arts account for six percent of the U. S. gross national product, more than the construction industry. (c) The arts develop the kind of "thinker" and "manager" businesses must have if they are to remain competitive in the global workforce.

4. The arts change lives through performance.
Look in the November issue to learn how the arts have changed the lives of the Highlands Youth Ensemble members when they performed in Hungary; about Cindy Gray, who says that Theatre Bristol has transformed the life of herself and her daughter; and how a young boy from a Southwest Virginia mountain town became hooked on Shakespeare.

5. The arts change lives by preserving cultural heritage.
Preservation is happening here. The Birthplace of Country Music Alliance plans to create a cultural heritage center in downtown Bristol. The Bristol Historical Society is preserving the E. W. King House. The Southwest Virginia Artisan Center is being constructed on this very campus. There is a plan to build Tanasi, another artisan center in Unicoi County Tennessee. If any of you have visited Tamarack in West Virginia, you know the value of this kind of center for tourism, for the economy, for preserving traditional arts, and as an outlet for artists.

So those of us involved in the arts believe that the arts change lives in so many ways. But what do local leaders think about the arts?

Look on page 10 of the November 2009 issue of A! Magazine to see what Lisa Meadows says about the value of a vibrant arts and cultural environment.

For a sneak preview of the December 2009 issue of A! Magazine, I can tell you that Kevin Crutchfield, President and CEO of Alpha Natural Resources, says: "One of the reasons that the arts are essential to a community is that they inspire us to think about who we are and how we want to be defined."

To you in the Lead Bristol class, I pose two questions -- who are we and how do we want to be defined?

Bristol is on the verge of an artistic renaissance. We have The Paramount Center for the Arts and our public library as anchors of a downtown cultural district. We have new art galleries, Theatre Bristol, ballet studios, the Rhythm and Roots music festival, the future Birthplace of Country Music Alliance Cultural Heritage Center, a historical museum in the works, The Paramount Chamber Players, and arts and music programs at Virginia Intermont College and King College. Look around for sculpture, and you will find caterpillars and larger sculptures on State Street and in downtown parks, horses on the Blountville Highway, more sculptures on the Virginia Intermont campus and at the Bristol Regional Medical Center outdoors and the Frederick Hart collection indoors, and at the Bristol Herald Courier building on Morrison Blvd.

Bristol is already rich with the arts, but will a cultural renaissance take hold? Is there room for one more artsy town?

Abingdon is already known as an arts center, with Barter Theatre, the Arts Depot, William King Museum, art galleries, the Virginia Highlands Festival, and the coming artisan center.

We live next door to Kingsport, which itself is undergoing a renaissance of the arts. See the September 2009 issue of A! Magazine online to read about the arts in Kingsport. Did you know that the city government of Kingsport has a Cultural Arts Division? Did you know that the Public Art effort in Kingsport will award $155,000 in commissions for art over the next year? Did you know that the City of Kingsport has a Percent for Art program, in which they designate 1% of the city's construction budget to fund public art projects?

In our October 2008 issue, A! Magazine reported the following: In its FY09 budget the City of Kingsport spent more than $1.8 million on the arts. By contrast, the city of Bristol Tennessee spent $850,000 on the arts; and Bristol, Virginia spent $666,500 on the arts. For all three cities, the highest portion of those amounts went to their libraries.

Did you know that the small town of Wytheville, Virginia, has a Department of Museums within its town government?

Did you know that the former mayor of Chattanooga, and now senator, Bob Corker, said that public art was fundamental to the design and development of the Chattanooga waterfront, a project that has brought many benefits to the city?

I present to you, the leaders of today and tomorrow, a challenge. Ask yourselves these questions:
• Do the cities of Bristol recognize the value of the arts enough to support cultural development?
• Do we, as future leaders, value the arts?
• Will we, as leaders of business and non-profits, support the arts?
• What can we as leaders of today and tomorrow do to promote and nurture the arts?
• Who are we in Bristol, and how do we want to be defined?

You, the members of this class, have the power, the knowledge, the talent, and the enthusiasm to Lead Bristol or the community where you live. What happens now is up to you.

Economic Impact of the Arts

National Economic Impact of the Arts and Culture from Americans for the Arts http://www.artsusa.org

Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity every year-$63.1 billion in spending by organizations and an additional $103.1 billion in event-related spending by their audiences. The study is the most comprehensive study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever conducted. It documents the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry in 156 communities and regions (116 cities and counties, 35 multi-county regions, and five states), and represents all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The $166.2 billion in total economic activity generated the following:
* 5.7 million full-time equivalent jobs
* $104.2 billion in household income
* $7.9 billion in local government tax revenues
* $9.1 billion in state government tax revenues
* $12.6 billion in federal income tax revenues

Economic Impact of the Arts in Tennessee
(limited to arts organizations)

Study by Tennessee Arts Commission and MTSU, based on figures from 2001-2002
Direct Effect of Payroll -- 2,115 jobs -- $71,809 income
Effects of Employee Spending -- 998 jobs -- $30,110 income
Effects of Non-payroll Spending -- 888 jobs -- $32,285 income

Economic Impact of the Arts and Culture in Virginia, December 2000 http://www.arts.virginia.gov/resources/reports/wessex.pdf

Arts and cultural organizations in Virginia annually generate...
* $849 million in revenues for Virginia businesses and
* $342 million in revenues for Virginia tourism businesses through spending by out-of-state visitors to the arts and cultural organizations. As a result of the business revenues created by Virginia arts and cultural organizations, the state's economy benefits from...
* $447 million in value-added income (mainly personal income) for Virginia's workforce and entrepreneurs
* $307 million in annual labor compensation for Virginia's workforce
* 18,850 full and part-time jobs

Arts Alliance Mountain Empire
• Arts Council for Bristol and the region
• Chartered in Tennessee in 2003
• Granted 501(c)3 status by the IRS in 2004
• Incorporated in Virginia in 2005
• Publisher of A! Magazine for the Arts
• Winner of Arts Council of Greater Kingsport Award for Arts Leadership, 2006

A! Magazine for the Arts
• Monthly arts magazine, weekly email digest
• Began in November 1994, as a publication of Bristol Herald Courier
• Adopted by Arts Alliance Mountain Empire in 2004
• Supported in 2009 by Bristol Herald Courier, the Tennessee Arts Commission and advertisers
• Winner of the Tennessee Governor's Award for Arts Leadership, 2003
• Winner of a Pinnacle Award, 2007
• Winner of three awards from Tri-Cities Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, 2009
• Online: current issue, calendar, subscribe to weekly email digest, archives, advertise
• To submit press releases and photos, email artsmagazine@aamearts.org
• To reserve advertising space, contact Ann Goodpasture, 276-608-4337