“I call it our crayon box down here,” joked Jennifer Hance, The Music Center Director. She was referring to the colorful walls of the first floor of the Greensboro Cultural Center.
It’s a crayon box, indeed. Various colors splash the walls and the people that filled the space on Saturday were a rainbow to match. The room buzzed with excited chatter and the giggles of children playing. The vibrant atmosphere would have made even Crayola envious.
On Aug. 29, the Cultural Center hosted the Seventh Annual City Arts Open House. The “Creation Celebration” showcase presented the organization’s myriad of opportunities to attend performances, take classes, create artwork and meet fellow community members.
The showcase had activities for all ages. Attendees marveled at performances by City Arts’ talented students, instructors and guest artists. Children decorated a bookshelf with colorful tissue paper and posed for a photo collage.
Young and old alike registered for the City Arts classes offered at the Cultural Center.
“What a great way to do it,” Hance explained. “To have an open house where we have activities for people to do, but people could also learn more about the programs.”
The effervescent Hance oversees The Music Center at City Arts. The Music Center houses 17 community music ensembles, music education programs and two concert series (OPUS and MUSEP).
The Music Center operates alongside the Caldcleugh Multicultural Arts Center, The Drama Center, Arts Alliance Greensboro, Dance Project: The School at City Arts and a Teachers-in-Residence program.
These departments provide “quality arts programming to the community for a reasonable, affordable and attainable price,” adhering to the mission of umbrella organization City Arts.
In designing the showcase, City Arts wanted it to be accessible. Everything there was available for looking, playing, interacting, touching, taking and experiencing—at no cost.
Booths displaying information about each program’s class schedules and events lined the hallway. Potential students gathered to chat with instructors about the class offerings and ask questions. Others nearby caught up with neighbors and friends.
At one of the booths was Art Alliance Greensboro’s Program Director Liz Busch. The Alliance teaches six to eight week long courses in drawing, painting, sculpting and pottery.
“So, we just started our new session last week,” Busch apologized. “Except for kids! We are starting a youth class this coming week, and then we have another winter session until December, then we’ll start again in January. So basically the schedule always remains the same.”
She picked up one of the class schedule brochures from the table. “You can look at it and go ‘Oh, I can do Wednesday nights,’ and you’ll know that that class will be offered.”
While Busch explained the brochure, violinists from The Music Center showed off their musical chops. Their audience appeared to be mostly parents, but was enthusiastic nonetheless.
Other performers of the afternoon included Scottish Highland Dancers, students from the Dance Project’s hip-hop, modern dance, and musical theatre classes and a Japanese Samurai Swordsmanship demonstration by Glenn Wyler. Dancer Damali Bacchus, a UNCG graduate, also performed.
The level of passion, talent and dedication to the arts permeating the room suggested that something good is in the water over at the Cultural Center, or maybe it’s in the people.
Instructors for each of the courses are some of the top artists in the area and are great teachers who love to share what they do.
Often they are the ones who approach City Arts to present their new class ideas and show that there’s demand for it. Once a program’s director approves it, the instructor takes off on their labor of love.
Passion begets passion; hard work begets hard work; and enthusiasm begets enthusiasm—one can see that just by observing Jennifer Hance’s energy in the way she talks about City Arts and laughs along with one of the volunteers swirling cotton candy for the attendees.
The open house exuded a wonderful atmosphere, fitting of a celebration of creativity and just a few of the arts experiences the City of Greensboro has to offer.
Moral of the story: if you want to join a community band, take up a new hobby like painting, channel your inner Tony-winning actress, or work up a sweat learning jazz, hip hop, ballet, or modern dance, City Arts is the place for you.
Hance put it best: “Our goal is really to be able to reach everybody in the community, wherever they might be.”