Art community welcomes Chu

Published 5:47 pm Saturday, May 27, 2017

The art community in Selma and Dallas County will be showing off their work this Wednesday for a special visitor.

Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, is making a detour to Selma on her way to Birmingham to visit the Birmingham Museum of Art.

“I look forward to visiting Selma and learning more about how opportunities are being created for everyone to have access to the arts, through our partnership with the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the important work of local arts organizations,” Chu said of her visit.

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The National Endowment for the Arts is an independent federal agency that was established by Congress in 1965 to fund and support art programs throughout the United States.

ArtsRevive, the Black Belt Community Foundation, the Alabama State Council on the Arts and Gallery 905 will host Chu while on her visit.

“We’re just all really excited that she is going to be here. It is quite a vote of confidence that she would make the trip to Selma while she’s in the state,” said Martha Lockett, executive director for ArtsRevive.

“It speaks deeply for the work that lots and lots of folks in the Black Belt are doing through the arts trying to make it available to use it as a vehicle for education and for economic advancement.”

ArtsRevive is currently in the process of turning the Carneal Building at the corner of Water Avenue and Church Street into a cultural arts center and creating artist workspace in the back of Gallery 905.

Lockett hopes Chu can see that even though Selma is a small town, the arts have a big impact here.

“We’re hopeful that she will get a chance to see that rural communities are small, but that there is a tremendous ability here to use grant money and leverage it for bigger programming,” Lockett said. “I just think anytime somebody comes in and sees on the ground what is actually happening, it increases the opportunity for more support and more opportunities.”

The evidence of the impact of art in Selma will be all around Chu Wednesday, as she attends a private reception at Gallery 905. And if she looks across the street, she is likely to see it as well, as work is currently ongoing at the Carneal Building.

Albert Head, executive director of the Alabama State Council on the Arts, is excited about showing Chu the relationships that have been developed between art driven organizations.

“Made possible by significant support from the NEA, the State Council on the Arts has been able to reach small towns, local arts organizations, artists, schools and thousands of students through the Black Belt Arts Initiative partnership program,” Head said.

“The strong relationships forged between the NEA, ASCA, the Black Belt Community Foundation and ArtsRevive is a perfect example of how federal, state and local partnerships make the arts work in Alabama and America.”

The National Endowment for the Arts channels money through organizations like the Alabama State Council on the Arts, who in turn funnels it through organizations like ArtsRevive and the Black Belt Community Foundation.

“We hope that she will see that an investment in small communities here or anywhere else has the opportunity to really have a major impact in changing the lives of the people they serve,” Lockett said.

Chu will speak at the Birmingham Museum of Art Thursday from 1-2 p.m.