Lesson learned this week is that the Upshur Arts Alliance (UAA) does a grand job influencing the arts in our mountain community quietly behind the scenes in a non-flashy way. UAA became incorporated as a WV nonprofit organization in April 1982. Since then they have efficiently been providing funding for local arts organizations and individuals and encouraging arts education in the public-school system. Business is conducted by an all-volunteer Board of Directors, which includes representatives of each current umbrella group and other persons interested in serving. UAA, Inc.’s stated purpose is “to promote, enhance and contribute to the educational, artistic and cultural lives of the residents of Upshur County and to serve as a fundraising resource and supportive agency for organizations and individuals who positively influence the cultural climate of the community.”
This Fall, the UAA presented a book, Our Town, Our Stories (Poetry, Fiction, and Memories
from Buckhannon, West Virginia). What a grand way to give 22 creative writers voice. In these here parts of the vast Appalachian Mountain range, we enjoy traditional tall tales fondly told around campfires and log cabin fires by pioneer mountaineers. Swapping stories is what we do and who we are. We enjoy the snap, crackle and pop of our hearths. We Relish the absurd. We Laugh with the self-deprecation of the storyteller. We Cheer for the cleverness. We Glow with warm feelings engendered.
So just before Christmas at our December 10 public meeting, Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus, our Superintendent of Upshur County Schools, respectfully requested approval for a donation of $500 to the Upshur Arts Alliance, which the Board of Education approved in a unanimous decision. We are a very conservative cross-section of non-partisan citizens, but we certainly endorse the arts!
In fact, the UAA may be one of the BOE’s favorite entities. They will take our meager funding and split it with such admired endeavors as the Artistry on Main, which represents 30 local artists cooperatively selling their creations, and they will stage the 5th Annual Community Spelling Bee coming up January 24, 2020.
That a mid-winter Spelling Bee can be great fun says something about our mountaineer sense of humor and about cabin fever—a clinical entity doctors like myself are called upon to treat when our deep snows keep us confined inside our cozy homes up and down our hills and hollows.
The Spelling Bee attracts 40 teams of four spellers each. The teams each contribute $100 for the privilege of participating. Of course, there can be a large contingent from our 550 Upshur County Schools employees. And our families and friends will be expected to fill the large Event Center at Brushy Fork to cheer us on to an er·u·dite victory.
Beyond the funding of local groups and individuals, UAA also strives to encourage arts education and participation by helping groups and individuals advertise their activities and opportunities and by demonstrating the positive influence of the arts in our lives.
So, this week a special salute to the Upshur Arts Alliance, Inc., which reminds us that Art enables us to find ourselves as mountaineers who are always free but not always serious.