Photos provided by Camilo Perdomo.
To build a strong and thriving city, emphasis should always be put on arts and culture. Infrastructure and smart business are key components as well, but without appealing aesthetics and cool places to go meet people, a city can lack community involvement and originality. Winston-Salem is a city that understands that need.
Art Nouveau Winston-Salem, a branch of the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, is an organization dedicated to improving the city’s cultural involvement through sponsoring monthly community events and supporting local artists. Since its inception five years ago, ANWS has grown alongside Winston-Salem’s budding downtown renovation. The make-up of the group is about half artists and half young professionals whose main goal is to engage the community with opportunities to connect and create. In their own words, they are “the next generation of Winston-Salem working to realize the full potential of our city’s arts and culture.”
The Arts Council of Winston-Salem is the oldest locally run organization of its kind in the nation. In 1949, the Junior League provided the city with a grant allowing the council to be created. Since then, they have been a model for thousands of other cities. Art Nouveau WinstonSalem was formed as an extension of the Arts Council to better serve the community in the 21st century. ANWS Director Devon Mackay states, “We really got going with our current model in the past three years when we had a self-reckoning that in order to fully expand our reach, we need to keep bringing in new faces and ideas in order to grow involvement to its full potential.” Since then, they have been meeting every month to plan a new event for the following month where every member of the board is required to bring three friends. The events have ranged from organizing art exhibitions to participating with Phuzz Phest, and recently they held a party at the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem. The party, called “Storybook Shindigs: On The Rocks,” was a collaboration with local businesses such as Hoots Roller Bar and Beer Company, where those 21 and older could explore the museum and enjoy drinks, food, games, music and engaging with like-minded individuals in the community.
Working with other organizations and businesses is also a hallmark of what they do at ANWS. Connecting artists and creative individuals is a big part of it, but the whole point is to bring together everyone who wants to see the city of Winston-Salem flourish in exciting and original ways. That means engaging those involved with business, medicine, food, government and any other background so that hopefully they will work together more effectively having a sense of the importance of arts in culture in everyday life.
These passionate individuals realize that even though art does not, by itself, literally build a city or make an economy flourish, it is part of a greater understanding of humanity which can influence every decision a person makes. Immersing oneself in art and creative ideas can change the way a person sees the world. Creativity is key in starting a business that will last and adapt, and so is communicating with others who might provide a springboard of brainstorming potential. Participating in and just simply appreciating the arts for what it can provide is one of the best ways for growing a populous of open-minded thinkers who will make decisions, which really impact the world around them. Art Nouveau Winston-Salem fully stands behind this principle and they are working constantly to expand the horizons of the city they call home. For more information on upcoming events, check out their Facebook page or go to intothehearts.org. Anyone interested in joining can email Devon Mackay at email@example.com.