Clayton Feeds Growing Cultural Arts Appetite
Town Presents Grants Worth $10,000
This summer more than 70 nervous teenagers, with aspirations of belting out Tony-award-winning Broadway tunes, showed up at the Clayton Center for musical auditions. They would go on to sell-out every seat in the house.
A few months later and just down the hall from that stage, the walls of the Clayton Center lobby lined with the creative and colorful creations of more than 60 different artists. They would go on to intrigue dozens of daily visitors day and night.
The winners of the 6th annual Clayton Cultural Arts Grants will help guarantee that support of the arts not only goes on, but continues grow even larger in the Clayton community. Clayton Youth Theater, with its increasingly popular theatrical and musical productions which serve to foster some of the area’s most talented young people, and Clayton Visual Arts, which monthly spotlights new and inspiring artists, are proud recipients of this year’s $10,000 funding.
Clayton Visual Arts, or CVA, is the recipient a $3,000 portion of the grant. Since 1999, the all-volunteer, non-profit group has been dedicated to “bringing art to Clayton,” which includes coordinating 12 monthly art exhibits at the Clayton Center. Their recent Art Faire competition attracted 63 different entries, a significant increase in years past, with more than half of artists hailing from right here in Clayton. Their annual Millstock Arts Festival lured crowds of nearly 2,000 to downtown Clayton this year, almost double the turnout of the year before. They hope to continue the positive trends for all of these events in 2013.
“In my job with the state, I’m visiting towns throughout North Carolina and Clayton seems to be one of the most progressive as far as trying to get art work exposed to the population and to its citizens and I think it’s a great thing,” says Clayton resident Mark Hale, whose father and mother-in-law were both featured in a recent monthly art exhibit sponsored by CVA.
Clayton Youth Theatre will utilize the remaining $7,000 of this year’s grant funding. For proof of this group’s reach and impact on the community, you need look no further than the successful production of Broadway’s Hairspray this summer which sold twice the number of tickets of any previous production by Clayton Youth Theater.
“It’s just amazing to go from their first year performances of less than 200 people to TWO sell-out crowds of more than 600 people five years later…it’s incredible,” says Clayton Mayor Jody McLeod, a member of the grant award committee. “The purpose of these grants is to enrich, expose, and touch people with the arts. That is exactly what Clayton Youth Theater does and continues to do, involving the entire community in performing arts.”
The grant will also allow for Clayton Youth Theater to continue a unique new program that reaches out to even the youngest of aspiring artists. The one-week “Backstage Pass” camp offers 1st through 6th grade students the chance to experience the behind the scene action of a performance and get a glimpse into the technical aspects of putting on a huge production. This year, Clayton Youth Theater founder and director Nikki Dyke was awarded the Frances Finch Hobart Award for Voluntary Community Service and she’s pledged to carry on her dedicated work cultivating the wonderful talent of Clayton’s youth.
The Cultural Arts Grant process was initiated in the 2008 Fiscal Year to generate more interest in cultural arts programming and to develop a process to effectively and efficiently allocate resources with sound and clear methods for decisions. It is the goal of the Town that grant funding will generate more interest in arts programming and encourage citizens to step forward to lead new cultural arts activities. Since its inception the town has awarded more than $60,000 in grants.