Nina Simone fund update

Published 9:40 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A community fundraising effort, undertaken by a concerned group of Tryon residents and merchants, to resolve an outstanding debt on the Nina Simone statute is entering its final week.

The fund raising drive, scheduled to end on Sept. 1, has resulted in contributions of more than $17,000 as of Aug. 17, through the generous donations of several individuals. Additional contributions can be placed in the Nina Simone escrow account at the Tryon branch of Bank of America, or given to Stephen Cobb, Tryon Downtown Development Association (TDDA) president, at Owens Pharmacy.

The outstanding debt, considered to be $55,000, resulted when the bronze statue’s sculptor, Zenos Frudakis, installed the statue on Trade Street, prior to receiving his two final payments.

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A dedication ceremony in February 2010 drew a large crowd on what would have been the 77th birthday of Simone, an internationally-renowned musician who was born in Tryon as Eunice Waymon in 1933.

The Nina Simone Project, an organization founded by Crys Armburst and 13 other community members, commissioned the statute in 2008.

In a recent interview with Gina Malone for the Times-News, Frudakis said he does not lay blame on anyone in particular for the fundraising failure that resulted in him not receiving payments as his work progressed.

He said he hoped the additional funds would be raised as, “It’s a shame for an artist to do work and not get paid for it.”

A letter – signed by TDDA’s Cobb, Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples and Jim Wright, on behalf of Always Tryon – was mailed to potential contributors in June. The letter stated: “We believe a successful fund drive will minimize a divisive issue in the community, bring resolution to the ownership of the statue and avoid potential litigation with the sculptor over the debt.”

Those objectives still remain, as does the hope to resolve the issue with the sculptor by the end of September.

– article submitted by Steve Cobb