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50 years young; The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County celebrates 50th anniversary at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden

By Faith Hatton, posted 1 week ago

The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County celebrated “50 Years of Color” on Thursday, June 6 at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden. Over 200 people filled the venue as the organization celebrated this historic milestone. Guests were treated to an assortment of foods with an ‘International Food Festival’ which featured dishes from Mexico, America, Thailand and India along with live music, and a joint performance from the Fayetteville Symphony and Cape Fear Regional Theatre.

Performer of the spoken word LeJuane Bowens (lovingly referred to as LJ by some in the crowd) was able to not only speak about the impact of art on his life and within the community, but also perform an original poem written just for the occasion.

Arts Council supporters and past leaders were able to speak about the amazing accomplishments and future goals for the organization. Performer of the spoken word LeJuane Bowens (lovingly referred to as LJ by some in the crowd) was able to not only speak about the impact of art on his life and within the community, but also perform an original poem written just for the occasion. 

Former Arts Council Executive Director Deborah Martin Mintz was also given the stage to speak on her time and work with the Council. Martin Mintz served on the Council for 25 years, 17 of which she served as Executive Director, before retiring in early 2019. 

Former Arts Council Executive Director Deborah Martin Mintz was also given the stage to speak on her time and work with the Council. Martin Mintz served on the Council for 25 years, 17 of which she served as Executive Director, before retiring in early 2019. She was and continues to be an avid supporter of funding the arts and is credited for stabilizing funding streams for the Arts Council through legislature and other avenues. Funding streams that, thanks to her powerful community impact, continue to this day. 

“The Arts Council stands strong in 2024 due to the past and ongoing support from our State legislators, County Commissioners, City Councilmembers, business sponsors, individual donors, our thousands of volunteers, the cultural community and incredible staffs over the years,” said Bob Pinson, President/CEO of the Arts Council. “We will always have another mountain to climb, but our potential is boundless as together we are making a positive difference in the lives of all those in Cumberland County.”

The night ended with the reveal of the Arts Council’s expanded footprint in Downtown Fayetteville in its new ARTS XLerator. Located in the armory building of the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry Company (FILI) at 255 Burgess St., just off Hay Street in Downtown Fayetteville. ARTS XL is a hub designed to nurture and empower the growth of artists and arts organizations.

This new facility will be located beside the FILI museum and will be an addition to the Arts Council’s current location at 301 Hay Street. 

The Arts Council revealed the proposed branding for ARTS XL on Thursday evening.

The Arts Council will be moving forward with plans to renovate the space into a 100-125 person multi-use space for rehearsals, performances and new office spaces for local arts based organizations such as The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and Sweet Tea Shakespeare, Cumberland Choral Arts and more. 

“Right now, where do they get their mail? Where do they get their phone calls? Part of what we're trying to do is capacity build these organizations and make their job easier. It also gives them an address and a point of contact and a kind of fixed home to be able to live out of and for people to access,” said Pinson. “We hope [to] use that multi use space for the cultural community for individual artists to be able to come into the downtown, and use it as an economic engine into our downtown, [to] bring it as a tourist piece to bring tourism and visitors into Fayetteville into the heart of the downtown and kind of see who we are.” 

ARTS XL will provide a supportive environment with resources specifically tailored to the needs of artists and arts organizations across various disciplines. Key features of ARTS XL will include: collaborative work environments, professional development opportunities and expanded exhibit and performance spaces.

“You see a lot of conversation about bringing business or bringing industry into Fayetteville, you listen to a lot of those presentations and they're about road networks and air travel and tax incentives and all this other sort of stuff. We in the arts community say: ‘What about quality of life?’ When a business is looking at two locations to try to figure out where they're going to go, what's going to tip the scale is going to be the quality of life that's going to be offered to that person and to that family moving into the area,” said Pinson. 

 Bob Pinson, President/CEO of the Arts Council shares about the anticipated impacts of the new space. 

The project is anticipated to launch in January 2025 and serve as a continuance of celebrating 50 years of the Fayetteville- Cumberland County Arts Council in the community. 

“This 50th [anniversary] starts tonight, but we're going to continue it through the rest of the year and into the first part of next year. So it's not just a one night party and then we're going to forget about it. We want people to know what we as an Arts Council are doing. We want people to know what our communities are doing, we want people to be proud of our community,” concluded Pinson. 

Digital rendering of the future Arts XL space. Graphic provided by:  Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County.
“Oh what a night!” The  Fayetteville Symphony and Cape Fear Regional Theatre played the guests out with a joint performance of December, 1963 (Oh what a night) by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. 
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