From schools’ partnerships to wildlife arts, AOP’s aim is all inclusive

Published 12:05 pm Monday, February 12, 2018


Walk into the Turnage Theatre on any given day and there’s something happening. In all likelihood, there are several somethings happening. In the frenzy of arts activity, is a purpose: to make art as inclusive and accessible as it can be.

Arts of the Pamlico staff and board members were recognized for their work at the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of commerce’s annual awards banquet on Jan. 25, when AOP was awarded the Chamber’s Nonprofit of the Year. The event was held at AOP’s own theater.

While the organization has always stressed the importance of art, over the last year, a shift has been made toward partnerships to facilitate arts for everyone, but especially to young people.

“We want kids to grow up and take care of the community and be the next generation of artists and art patrons. Our hope is that we’re starting to grow that,” said AOP Executive Director Debra Torrence in a past interview.

Examples include teaming up with Beaufort County Schools and Golden Ticket Cinemas for a program rewarding children who’ve met established behavioral goals. The students were supplied by the schools, AOP supplied the venue and Golden Ticket brought the refreshments. Another would be a $25,000 North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation grant to a joint effort between AOP and Eagle’s Wings, a local food pantry. On Eagle’s Wings’ side, the money is slated for a pantry for children ages infant to 4 years old; for AOP, it’s using art to demonstrate food insecurity in Beaufort County, where 1 in 4 children suffer from hunger, through activities at the Hands on Art festival last fall. This week, a new exhibit by Meredith Loughlin and John Groesser will be on display at the Turnage, highlighting the issue of hunger.

In addition to forging a partnership with the City of Washington for hanging a rotation of all-weather art in some downtown alleyways, the two have merged summer programs for children.

“What we’re hoping to do with this is create collaborative art in our community with groups of children and organizations in our community,” Torrence said, previously.

And there’s always a crafts table for children to explore their own brand of art at the Turnage.

“We want kids to see themselves as artists,” she said.