Greetings and best wishes for a happy new year from Up Your Arts! As we enter our fifth year of operation, we can’t thank you enough for your enthusiastic support. What a journey it’s been, from “How, exactly, does one go about upping the arts of an artistic community already full of artistic people, anyway?” to where we are now.
The founders didn’t know when UYA started in 2017 that the story of its success would be all about you, the people who sign up, show up, celebrate, and enjoy the amazing talent that exists in our own backyard. Together we are still doing all that: bonding local arts to our community life, appreciating artists where they live, and nurturing ways to make participation easier.
The weekly email calendar of events for live music performances launched in September was an early UYA goal and existed in another form for three years. That, along with our 4,000-member Facebook group, Southport Area Music & Arts, and many cool features on our website, has been critical to fulfilling our pledge to inform.
Our website also features the work of a variety of local partners, including Brunswick Community College at Southport Center, with full access to its arts-related curriculum catalog each semester; and provides an ongoing list of regional opportunities for artists via notices about grants, calls for submissions, juried exhibition applications, and news from other arts organizations.
Our annual Southport Plein Air Festival has put the city back on the map for open-air painters with the help of city officials, who organized similar “paint outs” several years ago. State grants awarded by the Brunswick Arts Council allow us to showcase a diverse array of performers during the festival and widen the audience for watching paint dry on a typically beautiful Southport day.
One of our most popular initiatives has been continuously underway since 2019. The “Save the Hall, Y’all” campaign will pass a big milestone in the next couple of months when an architect is chosen to draw up plans for transforming the historic county courthouse/city hall building downtown into a community-based arts center. Grassroots support for the project has been lauded by successive groups of Southport officials, whose long-term vision for such a space mirrors our own.
Local businesses and non-profit organizations have embraced any and all opportunities to connect their constituents with artists. Open Mic Nights every Thursday from March to November at American Fish Company; local musicians and entertainment venues for the 4th of July Festival in conjunction with the Southport-Oak Island Chamber of Commerce; and our latest project working with the Southport Historical Society and over 20 sponsors on “Southport, Open Your Doors” are only the three most recent. Our website allows us to salute each partner every day.
The only thing in the plan from the very beginning was making UYA’s efforts free to the public and 100% managed by volunteers. You signed on to the mission and you keep proving the means to achieve it.
Thank you for believing in the magic. Thank you for being generous with your time, talent, and treasure. Thank you for engaging with what comes next. Hang onto your hat!