BCAC seeks 40 under 40

Published 7:40 pm Thursday, April 12, 2012

Some may think turning 40 is the time to settle down. Some might see it as the fine line between young and old. Not Joey Toler, executive director of the Beaufort County Arts Council. Toler sees turning 40 as a starting point for big things to come.

“We’re not your grandmother’s arts council,” said Toler, with a laugh. “We bring music and art performances into the schools. We do a music festival and partner with ECU on graphic design and painting exhibits.”

In the 40 years of the Beaufort County Arts Council, a slew of annual events have defined the organization, with the star of the BCAC calendar being the Fine Arts Show each October, a prestigious event that garners hundreds of entries from across the eastern seaboard. According to Toler, beyond the big events, the facts about what the BCAC does for the community are less well known, especially by younger people in the community.

The Aurora Fossil Festival, the Fourth of July celebration in Belhaven, Bath Fest, are all supported financially by the arts council each year, Toler explained.

“We help sponsor these events and make sure there is some arts component at each one of them,” he said.

Artwalk found its legs through a collaboration between the Washington Harbor District Alliance and the arts council, as will “Art Unleashed,” the Union Alley outdoor art show to be launched tonight at Music in the Streets, downtown Washington’s monthly mini-music festival that takes place from April to October each year. “Art Unleashed” is another BCAC partnership, this one with the Inner Banks Artisans’ Center. Ten years ago, it was the BCAC in conjunction with WHDA and the Downtown Merchants Association, that lit up Main Street with the first Music in the Streets.

To Toler, events like these draw people together socially and culturally, and represent the lasting effects of the arts council’s 40 years. More important, he said, they demonstrate how the BCAC provides for the entire community — young and old.

“We have 40 years behind us and to commemorate that, we’re looking to reinvigorate our membership,” said Toler.

“Forty under 40” is how the executive director explains the drive to acquire 40 memberships from people younger than 40 years of age during BCAC’s 40th anniversary year.

“We’d love to see some fresh faces, hear some new ideas, get some feedback from the younger members of our community. What would they like to see?” asked Toler. “We need their support too.”

According to Toler, with events like the BoCO Music Festival (April 28), the BCAC Members Show (May 17-28), the Tar Landing Jam (May 19), and Art Camp (June 11-15) coming up, everyone in Beaufort County has the opportunity to see the role of the arts council in action.