Arts are important to our community

Kay Miller has made a difference
Dec 20, 2012

The past several years have been tough ones for nonprofits. The uncertainty, as well as the reality  of lost jobs or diminished incomes, has equated to less charitable giving. This has been especially true in the art world.

In Haywood County, the local arts council has been especially hard hit. While literally dozens of volunteers work tirelessly to keep the council’s Main Street gallery in Waynesville open and coordinate the many events sponsored by the group, available funds have been dwindling. That resulted in cutting the executive director position to just 20 hours a week.

Kay Miller has been at the council’s helm for the past eight and a half years, a time frame that makes her the council’s longest-running leader in the 35 years the organization has been in existence. Today is Kay’s last day at the council. She announced earlier this month she is stepping down to spend more time helping her husband, Richard, in his business pursuits.

During her tenure, Kay has been a steady leader who has worked mostly behind the scenes to bring art to the forefront in our community. That’s a big job considering art can be found in every corner on our county, whether it is the musicians and dancers in Fines Creek, the Women of NoHa (North Haywood County), the potters with studios from Cruso to Maggie, Canton to Balsam, or the many artists, sculptors, carvers, quilters and the list goes on.

Miller has helped build attendance at Folkmoot’s International Festival Day, has worked tirelessly with Junior Appalachian Musicians program, has instituted the quilt block program where giant painted quilt squares are placed on historical or cultural buildings and of course, the creation of Gallery 86.

During Miller’s tenure, the gallery showcasing various artists and celebrating their work with an open house gathered momentum, and now visitors flock to the exhibits.

As the Haywood County Arts Council proceeds with an all-volunteer staff for now, it is a time for all who understand the importance of art in our community to provide encouragement as the council board decides its future.

Art is an integral part of this county’s history and its economy. It is sure to be just as important in the future.