Arts Benefactor

Rhonda Bellamy works to grow promotion of local artists

As executive director of the Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County, RHONDA BELLAMY works in a variety of ways to support artists and arts organizations for the local community. 

Through the use of public and private partnerships that support jobs, the arts council is able to stimulate local commerce, while showcasing the region as an arts destination.

“We provide funding to support the sustainability of local artists and arts organizations, but we also do so much more than that,” Bellamy says. 

The arts council also works as a sort of headquarters for interested residents and tourists to find more information on current local art.

Throughout her career Bellamy has served on a variety of arts-related boards, including the Black Arts Alliance Inc. and the North Carolina Black Film Festival, both of which she co-founded. She has also served two non-consecutive terms on the board of directors for the Cameron Art Museum. Her background includes more than twenty years’ experience in broadcast news where she served as news director for Cumulus Media’s five-station radio cluster in Wilmington, as well as hosted a daily talk show.

Bellamy began her relationship with the arts council serving as interim executive director in December 2011 when the organization first launched. The group first set up shop in the Brooklyn Arts Center while searching for a permanent executive director. Bellamy was soon offered the position, which she began in July 2012. The arts council then transitioned to its current location at 221 North Front Street.

“We wanted to establish it in the central business district where it could have the most impact,” Bellamy says. 

The arts council recently participated in the Ears on the Arts listening tour, which was an opportunity for its board of directors and staff to reconnect with the community. 

“We had a template as to how we wanted to establish the organization. We’re in the middle of our strategic plan for 2016 through 2019, and have more than exceeded our original plan,” Bellamy says. “We thought this would be a good time to gather a general consensus as to what members of the community, local politicians, and artists wanted from the arts council from here on out.”

The arts council members also spoke with a number of local businesses including hotels and restaurants to gather perspective as to how they could help benefit their establishments with local art.

One of the other outgrowths of the Ears on the Arts listening tour, according to Bellamy, is an arts summit set to take place in the first quarter of 2016. It is slated to include two days of professional development workshops for artists and area organizations.

Among many of the arts council projects is its public sculpture program.

“With fifteen pieces spread out around, more public sculpture art is up around the city than ever before,” Bellamy says. 

The arts council also has a new cell phone app, the mobile audio tour, which allows residents to use location-specific mapping to find the public sculptures.

The app contains audio files of information about each location on the map and also includes other art-featuring spots such as WHQR, Thalian Hall, and ten local art galleries. Launched in April, the app was created to coincide with the Tri-State Sculptors conference, when sculptures were installed as part of the arts council’s pedestrian art public sculpture program.

The audio tour is available at the site artswilmington.toursphere.com.

The arts council also provides a place where the community can connect with local artists on its website, which includes free marketing tools where artists can create their own page.

As far as future projects go, the arts council has plans to create Bridge Partners, an opportunity to work with the Leland Cultural Arts Center. 

In the meantime, The Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County continues to promote the Fourth Friday Gallery Nights that includes sixteen downtown galleries for viewing.

Keeping tabs on everything art-related in the area, the council collects information on all local arts, from performance arts such as music and dance to sculpture and painting. 

“We are a great source for artists who need referrals,” Bellamy says, “who want to connect with other local artists.” 

 

To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to www.timelessfotographie.com