TFAC announces new season, reviews plans for future

Published 12:51 pm Thursday, August 12, 2010

As the Tryon Fine Arts Center prepares for its just-announced 2010-11 season, the people who operate it are preparing for a new chapter in the 40-year history of the center.

The center is under the leadership of Executive Director Beth Child, a former concert pianist in the arts arena with non-profit experience in the business world. Child came on board seven months ago and found TFAC in a state of flux.

A fundraising drive to construct a new building was cut short by the recession and changes at the top of TFAC and at a meeting this fall, Child and TFACs board of directors must decide where both the organization and its fundraising efforts go from here.

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Theres been an evolution here, said Child. We have to ask ourselves, What does the community need us to be? Were taking a look at ourselves and asking, Who are we?

The answer to that question will determine the course for TFAC beyond the 2010-11 season, which begins Oct. 3 with the return of Taylor 2, a six-member dance ensemble (see the box above for the season schedule).

The logo for the arts center used to include an umbrella, Child said, referring to the ongoing evolution of TFAC. That was because all these different arts groups came here and were kind of under our umbrella.

But now those arts organizations have all gotten stronger, which is great, and theyve moved out.

Those groups have taken with them rental revenue that TFAC administrators must try to replace as they move forward.

She said most everything is on the table from the word fine in the name, which could intimate an unwanted air of exclusivity to some, to capital improvements.

Originally, the stymied fundraising drive was to be for a new building that would extend TFACs reach, but she said board members may redirect that drive after its fall strategy session.

Whatever we do, we want to be good stewards of the money we are given, she said. Thats why were stepping back and looking at what we need.

Theres a lot of thinking and a lot of self-examination.

Child points to the newly renovated theater, which recently hosted the Tryon Little Theaters production of Charlottes Web, as a perfect venue for local performing artists and possibly even for special movie nights that could introduce more people to the center.

We want to bring people here who might not otherwise come to TFAC, she said.

To that end, the local rock group, Wishgrove, will take the stage at TFAC Sept. 25, following a dinner at Farwell Garden.

The theater is a great venue for so many things, Child said. But it is expensive to rent because of the heating and cooling costs. We have great lighting and an outstanding sound system. We hope people will consider finding sponsors to help underwrite some of those costs.

While the upcoming season includes several large shows, TFAC also continues to host the works of local and regional artists in its galleries and on its walls. Local artists continue to draw, paint and sculpt on the buildings lower levels.

The Po Kitties photo contest will be featured with the photos of more than 300 animals later this year with the awards ceremony scheduled for Nov. 6.

TFAC will kick off the holidays with the Do It Yourself Messiah a community sing-along to parts of Handels “Messiah” that is open to the public.

We want (the center) to belong to the community, Child said. We want to give children and adults a chance to use it.

While Tryon has become something of an enclave for artists of all types from poets to sculptors to photographers Child said she hopes TFAC can become a destination for those artists and for art enthusiasts throughout the region.

We do want to be an arts destination, she said. Thats another thing that helps Polk County. It helps us and other arts organizations, the Flag Museum everyone.