A place for Shelby County artists to thrive

Published 12:54 pm Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Artists become famous, or in some cases infamous, for helping the rest of us see things we could not have seen without their help. This truism is typically thought of in terms of stone for sculpture and oils for paintings, but members of the Shelby County Arts Council introduced me and perhaps many others to something we have not seen. This time their medium is brick, mortar and dreams.

As the Arts Council announced plans to build a 26,000-square-foot multipurpose art facility, the council made it obvious there is a dramatic need for a performing arts facility in Shelby County.

Sure, there are limited facilities sprinkled at schools and churches in different parts of the county, but there isn’t a facility large enough to accommodate the diverse arts needs and ambitions of such a far-reaching community.

Terri Sullivan, founder and driving force behind the council, artists, instructors and volunteers, has been working behind the scenes for years, consistently moving the dream of creating a performing arts facility forward. The focus of her efforts has not solely been the construction of a performing arts center, but rather what such a center would make possible for the community.

A gallery space filled with natural light, a 450-seat-capacity theater that can be used as a meeting space or transformed into a theater-in-the-round, classroom space for art instruction, kilns, dressing rooms, a dance studio and the like are all part of the council’s dream.

So many artists paint, sculpt, draw and create for years without recognition; their talents are later discovered and those artists quickly labeled as “overnight successes” by outside observers.

I am looking forward to opening night at the performing arts center someday soon, when those same outside observers will label it an overnight success, too.