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The Arts Organization of the Year award was given to ART26201, a Buckhannon-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to support art and artists in the Buckhannon-Upshur community. / Photo courtesy Allison Corbin and ART26201

ART26201 garners governor’s coveted Arts Organization of the Year accolade

CHARLESTON – A local volunteer organization dedicated to the arts earned a Governor’s Award for the Arts.

The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts presented the Governor’s Arts Awards in Charleston, Tuesday, March 1. The Arts Organization of the Year award was given to ART26201, a Buckhannon-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to support art and artists in the Buckhannon-Upshur community.

President of Art 26201 Bryson VanNostrand said the award demonstrates Buckhannon’s commitment to the arts.

“I think the real reward is just the communitywide recognition of Buckhannon’s prioritizing the arts,” VanNostrand said. “We’re doing good things as far as the state Arts, Culture and History folks are concerned. We want to promote this now — it’s not over, it’s just getting started, and we’ve got the support. Now, we need to promote it and celebrate it.”

He said ART26201 members were a little surprised they won, but they knew it was well-earned.

“There’s always a certain amount of disbelief, like, maybe all the other candidates weren’t feeling good, maybe no one else submitted, but I work all over West Virginia in small towns, working on historic buildings, trying to breathe new life into downtowns, and I would say there are very few towns in West Virginia who are using arts to support economic development like we are, and the reality is all of this is being done with volunteers,” VanNostrand said.

He expressed how vital volunteers have been in supporting and promoting the arts community in Buckhannon.

“It’s really being driven by volunteers and private donations,” VanNostrand said. “The Colonial Arts Center is a tax-dollar project primarily, but I don’t know many other small towns across West Virginia that are going to volunteer their time and their money to make something fun and completely useless. Most people would say the arts are not essential for day-to-day life, but they are what makes life better.”

ART26201 has several events coming up, including their next exhibit at the M.I.B Gallery.

“We have a long list of things that are in the works, some of which we’ve already received some funding for and some we are pursuing funding for,” VanNostrand said. “Firstly, the ongoing management of the gallery is a really big thing. We’re having 10 exhibitions a year, which is insane; it’s potentially double the number of exhibits for a regular gallery.”

The upcoming exhibit in March will feature Upshur County youth and April’s show will showcase cast-iron, three-dimensional sculpture.

“We’re pairing that with a four-day, iron-casting workshop, and we are also getting ready for our young storytelling camp and our young filmmaker’s camp,” VanNostrand said. “The interviews for the managing director position of the Colonial Arts Center have also started, so we should have a captain for the ship soon.”

During the March 1 presentation of the Governor’s Arts Awards at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex, ART26201 was one of 11 entities that received Governor’s Arts Awards. Ten Legislative Leadership Awards in the Arts were also presented.

According to a press release from the W.Va. Department of Arts, Culture and History, the Governor’s Arts Awards are presented biennially to celebrate the state’s creative spirit and the extraordinary talents of the people and groups that produce art. They also recognize those whose willingness to support arts organizations and artists helps to ensure the arts maintain an important place in communities and schools, the release says.

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