Mayor at Work on Second Arts Summit and Arts Council

Updated 4 years ago by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
Mayor at Work on Second Arts Summit and Arts Council

Smiling at what others have termed his plethora of initiatives, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams in between stormwater improvements and compliance enforcement remedies has not slacked off supporting and promoting the arts.

“There are so many things we are doing in this city artswise”, specifically mentioning the theatre, the symphony, and the forthcoming downtown Fine Arts Center under construction in the former Stone & Thomas Building opposite Pullman Square.

Last October the first Huntington Arts Summit at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena Conference Center brought together the community and arts organizations, Groups in attendance ranged from representatives of newly established traditions such as the Huntington Art Walk and the interactive Murder & Merriment mysteries to individual artisans and representatives of established groups.

Actors, musicians and filmmakers joined sculptors, photographers and painters  at the  town hall  ‘Chat n Chew’ styled forum to hear ideas that would better promote Huntington and discuss a possible “certified arts community” designation.

Now, the Mayor helps formulate the focus of the second Arts Summit.

“We have to get the Tri State Arts Council moving”, Williams said, noting that “every time I turn around” he sees activities that could develop into major events.

Randall Reid Smith, commissioner of the WV Division of Culture and History, has agreed to serve on the council, Williams said.

He complimented Margaret Mary Layne, director of the Huntington Museum of Art, whom he called an “angel” for this city.

Referring to conversations with her, Williams beamed, “I come walking away as if I’m in the clouds. She lifts me up that much.” Last year, Ms. Layne delivered an Arts and Economic Prosperity presentation at the Summit.

The Mayor believes Huntington will grow into  an arts destination. Although Williams has often expressed his love for the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center, he emphasized that “we have [many] tremendous venues”. For instance, the Jean Carlo Stephenson Auditorium on the second floor of Huntington’s City Hall.

He foresees that “at least five major arts related events could be developed in the next year. Every one of them separate, but interrelated. If we do all these”, he continued, “Huntington will be on the map as an arts destination”.

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