Board of Directors

The Arts Council of Wilson, Inc. 2017-2018 Board of Directors are  Rhyan Breen, back row left, Tom Fyle, Jay Gallimore, Jim Fitzgerald, Phil Singer, John Helms, CarolePerez-Navarro, Linda Hanson, Rebecca Coulter, Brenda Evans, front row left, Beth Searcy, Elizabeth Winstead, Delores Gunter, Linda Piper, and Vonda Darr. Not pictured are Harold Anderson, Leslie Atkinson, Bob Beaman, Jean Wynn Jones, Michelle Manavi, Tracy Wellington, Marcia Williamson.

Executive Committee

President - Jim Fitzgerald
Vice-President - Beth Searcy
Secretary - John Helms
Treasurer - Vonda Darr
Past President - Jay Gallimore
Personnel Committee Chair - Rhyan Breen
At-large Member - Bobby Beaman
At-large Member - Tracy Wellington
City Representative - Thomas Fyle
County Representative - Leslie T. Atkinson

One Year Term (class of 2018)

Jay Gallimore (Past President)
Rebecca Coulter
Jim Fitzgerald
Delores Gunter
Jean Jones
Linda Piper
Phil Singer
Tracy Wellington

Two Year Term (class of 2019)

Rhyan Breen
Brenda Evans
John Helms
Carole Perez-Navarro
Beth Searcy
Marcia Williamson

Three Year Term (class of 2020)

Harold Anderson
Bob Beaman
Vonda Darr
Linda Hanson
Michelle Manavi
Elizabeth Winstead

Message from Our Board President

Dear Supporters of the Arts,

I love the arts. I love Wilson. When asked to serve on the Board of Directors for the Arts Council of Wilson, it seemed a perfect marriage of the two. As I begin my term as president, my goal is to share my love of the arts with the people of the city that I love.

Why are the arts important? In the third year of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln ordered work to go ahead on the completion of the dome of the capitol. When critics protested the diversion of labor and money from the prosecution of the war, Lincoln said, “If people see the capitol going on, it is a sign that we intend this Union shall go on.” Franklin Roosevelt recalled this story in 1941 when, with the world in the blaze of war, he dedicated the National Gallery in Washington. John Kennedy recalled both these stories when he asked for public support for the arts in 1962. Kennedy said, “Lincoln and Roosevelt understood that the life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of the nation, is very close to the center of a nation’s purpose and is a test of the quality of a nation’s civilization.’’

For the Arts Council of Wilson, this is going to be a challenging year. However, in challenge, there is opportunity. During my term, we will see the historic Wilson Arts Center and original home of BB&T become revitalized as the work begins in November on a million-dollar renovation project. As with any construction project, there will be some inconveniences, but we ask for your patience as we look forward to our grand re-opening next year. Don’t worry, we are working hard to make arrangements to ensure that community favorites like Miniature Masterpieces and the Holiday Invitational will go on.

In addition, after 11 years, the Arts Council is losing one of the strongest advocates for the arts in Wilson as our Executive Director Barry Page begins his life of well-deserved (second) retirement. Barry has been a true friend, not only to me, but to the betterment of life for all who call Wilson home. Barry - you will be missed, but I am truly looking forward to seeing what our new Executive Director will bring to us.

A Banker’s Holiday will get new life as we plan for Banking On the Arts in October. This is our largest fund raiser for the year. As a banker myself, it is wonderful to see all the banking institutions in Wilson come together to help support the Arts. (Mark your calendars for Friday, October 13 at the Wilson Gym on the Barton College campus.)

The 21st Boykin Series will be amazing! From the Little River Band to Marty Stuart to Delbert McClinton to the Steady Drive Bluegrass Band, we have a total of 8 concerts that you do not want to miss. It’s frustrating to hear people say you must go to Raleigh or Durham to see great shows. If you believe that, I challenge you to visit the Boykin Cultural Center for one of our shows and see if we can’t change your mind.

I believe in the art of communication. I have already begun going to civic clubs and other organizations to tell the tale of what the Arts Council means to Wilson. Also, I have been working to strengthen partnerships with like-minded organizations so we can work together – Barton College, The Playhouse of Wilson, Downtown Development, the Whirligig Park, and the City of Wilson - just to name a few.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with two requests: One, come to an opening, a concert or a play and see for yourself why I am so excited about what is happening in Wilson; and Two, become a contributing member of the Arts Council. I promise you, it is not an expense, but an investment.

Break a leg!
Jim Fitzgerald
President of the Arts Council of Wilson

Elevator Speeches

Members of the Board of Directors share why they love the Arts Council of Wilson.

Vonda Darr

The Arts Council of Wilson has been a lifeline for my family. When we moved to Wilson in 2008, we were immediately impressed with the depth and breadth of offerings through the Arts Council. My girls signed up for summer camps within days of moving here, and jumped right into the Act for Youth and visual art programs. Act for Youth helped transform our youngest from a little girl that would crawl under her chair when called upon to audition, to a confident performer that won the Best Actress Award in 2016. Both of our girls have lasting friendships and memories from this program, and have learned life skills such as teamwork, preparation skills, confidence, anxiety management, adaptability, how to deal with disappointment, and how to celebrate others' successes. This Arts Council is not only impressive for a city this size, it is impressive for a city of any size.

Vonda Darr, Harpist NC Symphony

Linda Barnes

I have had a love of the arts since childhood. Even though my parents encouraged me to select a major in college that would provide guaranteed financial security, that love of the arts never wavered. During my working years I was a patron of the arts. At every opportunity I enjoyed theater, music, dance and visual art performances and/or events. After the Boykin Center became a part of the Wilson culture and climate, I was a regular patron. Having now retired, I have the opportunity to immerse myself in the things that I love and enjoy. And, I hope to participate in those things more fully as both a patron and facilitator. As a participant in a few other civic organizations, I look forward to using my position on the board of the Arts Council to initiate a relationship between these groups. Hopefully the other groups with which I am affiliated will become more aware of local entertainment events and talents. And, the Arts Council will benefit from more patronage at their sponsored events. In any community, the value and enrichment that the cultural arts bring is immeasurable. The chance to further enhance the cultural aspects of my community by serving on the board of the Arts Council (in any capacity) is a job to which I am looking forward.

Tom Fyle

The arts council is a great asset to our community. It provides a cultural and artistic view of the people and the place we live. The Wilson arts council is diverse and serves as a way to bring people together from the many cultural aspects of our city and county. I am happy to be a part of such an outstanding organization. I would also encourage our citizens to participate in the many programs the arts council offers.

Jim Fitzgerald

I was born and raised in Wilson. I was first exposed to the arts in the 9th grade when Bob Johnson asked me to audition for a role a Shoestring Theatre production. I was hooked. During the four years I spent at the University of North Carolina, I became a theatre rat. As my lack of talent on-stage became more obvious, I developed an interest and increasing talent in theatre lighting. I completed a year-long internship with the Master Electrician at PlayMaker's Rep and was soon running lights for every show produced. I spent the rest of my time at UNC running, designing and managing all aspects of the lighting for PlayMaker's at both the original PlayMaker's Theatre and the new Paul Green theatre. During the past few years, I have volunteered for several Art's Council and Act for Youth productions and soon became more and more involved with the lighting at the Boykin Center. I was thrilled with the newly upgraded light board and was honored to be asked to serve of the Boykin Center Dream Team. Now, I'm looking forward to continuing my support for the Arts in Wilson by serving on the Board of Directors for the next three years.

Linda Hanson

My husband and I joined the Arts Council of Wilson when we first moved here over 20 years
ago and we have been supporters ever since. We have enjoyed countless visits to the galleries to admire and occasionally purchase artwork. We have been entertained by theater shows, comedians and musicians at the Boykin Center. Our children have actively participated in summer art camps, theater camps and Act! For Youth theater productions. I love to browse for unique gifts of jewelry, artwork and handmade treasures, all beautifully crafted by local artists and sold at the Gallery Shop of the Arts Council. These are just a few examples of the many ways my family has benefited from the presence of a vibrant and active Arts Council here in Wilson. I truly believe that our Arts Council has something to offer every single person in our community, and that we are fortunate to have an institution of this caliber promoting the arts in Wilson. I am thrilled to be a supporter!

Linda Hanson, Community Volunteer

Jay Gallimore

I have supported the Arts Council for a long time, but from afar with contributions and attending events. Now, I want to be a little more active and involved. Why? I have listed personal leanings towards the arts, but the more pragmatic evaluation is associated with the involvement of art and the arts in the fabric of community and the history and the identity and the pride of people, groups of like people, ethnicities, and nations! I have traveled to Italy, Russia, China, and other places and no matter where you go, each area is proud of many things associated with their locale, but folks always include, display, and celebrate their art, their painting, sculptor, dance, theater, and more. They are proud of the heritage of their past and proud of current artistic endeavors for the future. It is important! The Arts Council of Wilson strives to promote the arts of our community for education, for enjoyment, for personal improvement, and to keep the connecting thread alive that exists in the heart and soul of the human nature. Art is an essential part of us and our connection to each other. The Wilson Arts Council is a promoter for art in all of us, whether an artist or a lover of art or for even those not fully aware of art, that elevates the cultural standard of living for our community and for each citizen in our community. I want to be a part of that. It is important!