Promoting the arts, history, and culture through collaboration

Published 2:47 pm Saturday, April 20, 2024

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The Beaufort County Arts Council and the Brown Library History Center have joined forces in a collaborative effort to promote the arts, history, and culture of Washington. A very exciting prospect for both. “It is really important in a small community like Washington where there are limited resources to partner together to strengthen our efforts,” said Kelly Shanafelt, executive director of the Beaufort County Arts Council. “By doing so the community and our visitors will reap the benefits of everyone coming together for a common goal. The Brown Library and Stephen are the perfect partners for making this happen.

“We both encompass the same cultural aspects and the common drive to promote the arts and history of our community,” said Brown Library historian, Stephen Farrell. “We want to celebrate what we have and show it off to our community and visitors. I’m so delighted to be working with Kelly and the Beaufort County Arts Council, as it allows us to build stronger bonds within the community and accomplish our mutual goals.  I look at it as a new renaissance of the arts here in Washington and the Pamlico River Basin.”

As Farrell pointed out there are two things that stand out at the core of what Washington is all about. Pride in the past and faith in the future. “Together we will provide the basis for that to continue. We are the bearers of the preservation of culture and education for the future.”

Shanafelt sees the possibilities as limitless based on the resources that both have to offer. “We are unique for a town our size to have a fully functional historic facility like theTurnage Theatre,” said Shanafelt. “It is a place that people love to come to and always feel welcome. We can display all kinds of historic artifacts and provide a space that is a perfect venue for lectures. By partnering with the library we will be able to use history to highlight some of our performances through special presentations by Stephen and others. The possibilities are endless.”

Added Ferrell, “Having all of these tools in our toolbox, will allow us to keep building on what our forefathers started,” said Farrell. “By hosting lectures, historical displays, and events we can better highlight our area and its history. What we are creating is bigger than all of us and will only benefit our citizens and visitors that much more.”

Shanafelt said to be successful moving forward nonprofits need to start collaborating rather than working from their silos. “Collaboration has almost become the battle cry of nonprofits because they are starting to understand that to survive and be successful they have to start working together,” said Shanafelt. “By collaborating with Stephen and the Brown Library we only strengthen our ability to attract outside funding from foundations, grants, and private donors. In return, it allows us to reach outside our community to market what we have and draw visitors from all around”

As Farrell went on to point out, he and Shanafelt have fallen in love with Washington during their short times living here. Plus, they have a common synergy of connecting culture with history and the want to promote it. “Culture is a living breathing aroma in the atmosphere, and continues to change over time,” said Farrell. “It provides a window which shows that we can only understand how we got to where we are today by looking back at our past. By doing so everyone will reap the benefits moving forward.”

Plans are already underway for a June debut of a documentary about the history of Washington’s Tulip Festival, which will be shown at the Turnage Theatre. Proceeds from the event will benefit both the Beaufort County Arts Council and the Historic Port of Washington’s mission to promote, through education, the deep, diverse history of Washington.