Friday, April 06, 2001

Waynesville fosters arts, culture

Festival, heritage center hallmarks of village's effort

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer Contributor

        WAYNESVILLE — The village that earned a reputation for its Victorian architecture, antiques shops and yearly sauerkraut festival wants to add another calling card — cultural and arts center.

        Two complementary efforts are under way. Last year, a group of residents established the Waynesville Area Heritage and Cultural Center and found a home for the organization in the 1905 Friends Home, a former Quaker boardinghouse.

        “The purpose is to preserve the heritage of this area, which is extremely rich because of its connections with the Quakers, with river commerce and with the Underground Railroad,” said Sharen Eninger, a cultural center trustee.

        Although the building is owned by the Society of Friends, members of the cultural center wanted it preserved and used, so they have helped renovate it. The facility will contain a museum of local history and provide space for arts and cultural activities, such as meetings of a dulcimer society and art lessons.

Arts festival in May
        A year ago, the Waynesville Rotary Club purchased a new band shell for the village's Bicentennial Park and presented an arts festival to celebrate its completion. The festival will be back in May, with visual and performing arts events planned in the park and at five other locations.

        “Even though Rotary kicked it off this year, everybody in the village and township is supporting it,” said Chuck Williams, a Rotarian and this year's festival chairman. “It's just blossomed. Things are coming out of the woodwork.”

Financial support sought
        As the festival has become more ambitious, the price tag has increased. Festival volunteers decided to establish a nonprofit Waynesville Area Arts Council and seek supporting grants from arts agencies and foundations.

        Founders hope the arts council will provide a permanent, reliable source of funding for the festival and other arts events in the community, Mr. Williams said.

        “We believe there is a desire to support and recognize the arts in our community. To be successful, the arts council is asking those who share this view to step forward with financial support to bring this dream to life.”

        There are other signs that the arts are taking root in Waynesville. Ms. Eninger's year-old Fish House Art Gallery plays hold to a series of exhibitions featuring the work of artists from Southwest Ohio. A new show featuring nature paintings of Somerville resident Katy South opens Saturday. During the spring and summer, the gallery owner is offering art classes for adults and children.

"Capital of fine arts'
        A community children's choir is forming too.

        “We want Waynesville to be not only the antiques capital of the Midwest, but also the capital of fine arts,” Ms. Eninger said.


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- Waynesville fosters arts, culture
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