Group of local artists work toward organizing new Cape Artists Council

Monday, March 13, 2006

A small group of local artists are working to create an arts organization to serve as an alternative to already-existing arts groups. But there are still many steps to be taken before the new Cape Artists Council can become a viable arts organization -- something the new group hopes to achieve within the year.

The Cape Artists Council is for now only made up of a few officers but is trying to attain not-for-profit corporation status and planning events to start building membership.

Chair Michael Huntington said the council hopes to be a home and networking organization for artists from a variety of disciplines -- artists who feel they've been ignored by entities like the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri and the Visual Arts Cooperative.

"There's a whole segment of people out there who have not been tapped into and looked at as artists -- graphic novelists, tattoo artists, filmmakers, computer artists. There's not a place for them to show their stuff, or there's just too much politics playing in to it," Huntington said.

Huntington's troubles with the arts council go back to 2004, when he had a disagreement with then-executive director Rebecca Fulgham over the council supporting the first Show Me Digital Film Festival. Huntington said he felt shunned by the arts establishment, and formulated the idea to form an alternative arts council.

The organization would include subgroups for visual arts, performing arts, filmmaking, literary arts and music. They hope to hold a meet-and-greet event next month to begin talking to possible members, Huntington said.

Local artist Craig Thomas, an officer in the Visual Arts Cooperative, said he understands the group's frustration with the establishment and access in local arts organizations. However, said Thomas, forming a viable organization can sometimes be difficult, especially in small towns.

"When an artist feels like they're getting slighted by the only place in town, it's good to have another avenue to go down," said Thomas. "If the area is strong enough in the arts to have another entity, it's always good to have one."

However, getting the funds and keeping the money coming in can be tough, said Thomas, especially when state funding for the arts is low. Established groups like the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri already have the structure established to get those funds, he said.

Claudia Ruediger, chair of the arts council board of directors, said any group that adds diversity and serves more artists can only be a benefit to the community.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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