HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Huntsville’s largest festival, the summer entertainment for the new downtown entertainment districts, and the public art displays around Huntsville- all sponsored by the same organization?
We’re talking about the Huntsville Arts Council, and Executive Director Allison Dillon-Jauken is this week’s leadership perspectives interview.
The Arts Council is the sponsor for the city’s longest running, and largest festival, Panoply.
Allison explains why Panoply sticks with its late April time slot, despite the fact that in many years, like 2013, are washed out.
“We’ve done the research. This summer we actually pulled up the records from Farmer’s Almanac, and as you go right on through the summer your chances of rain on any particular weekend of the year are just as good as the next historically, and it’s that community tradition. That last weekend in April is Panoply,” said Dillon-Jauken.
“We’re able to serve school children through our Panoply school days, before we get into the weekend and so it’s really a good date for what we have to offer, and throughout the southeast through the performers and professional artists that participate in Panoply, it’s also well-known and that last weekend in April they know they’re coming to Huntsville Alabama for Panoply Arts Festival,” said Dillon-Jauken.
Though Huntsville has a reputation as an engineering-oriented town, its bourgeoning art scene is on the rise.
“You might not realize, and your viewership might not realize but we have over 150 individual artists as members in Huntsville, and so many people here in Huntsville can pursue their passion after hours in the arts. So we really help connect the community to the arts and we really help promote that growing arts scene locally,” said Dillon-Jauken.
That reputation as an engineering-town does have its hurdles, though.
“I have worked coast-to-coast with the arts, and I will say it’s challenging in our community because we are such and engineering focused town. And, for a non-profit arts organizations today, the funding climate is incredibly competitive,” said Dillon-Jauken.
Dillon-Jauken says her organization has found a way to bridge the gap between the sciences and the arts, thought.
“We are heavily invested in promoting STEM because the arts, when added to the curriculum, can really help engage and inspire young people especially in those technical areas.”
And that sums up nicely the way the Arts Council has had to change with the times.
“It has, it has, and really our mission is to stimulate and support community creativity, and that’s creativity for our artists, but creativity across the community as a whole, and we have such a creative community. You can look at the Panoply Arts Festival, which the Arts Council produces, and we have over 15-hundred volunteers that come out that weekend just to produce that festival, and they embrace it and they love it, so that community creativity and engagement, and through all we do at the Arts Council and all we advance and promote, it ties into education, economic development and our overall quality of life,” said Dillon-Jauken.