Friday, September 28, 2012

SMAC leaders want to make organization more inclusive

The Smith Mountain Lake Arts Council is opening its Oct. 17 annual meeting to the public in hopes of courting new members. The SMAC Expo and Annual meeting will give those attending the chance to meet arts council affiliates and learn about the special projects the organization fosters. This is the first year for the expo, and SMAC leaders said they are hoping the informal atmosphere of the expo will encourage the public to find out more about the lake's arts community.

"The expo gives people a chance to find out about what's available at the lake without having to go to a class or a meeting where they might be hesitant to go, because it would mean entering a meeting full of people they don't know," said Joyce Dittrich, SMAC secretary. "At the expo, they can have one-on-one interaction with members of the group before going to a meeting."

The council is an umbrella organization for visual and performing arts groups in the lake area. It serves as a coordinating body, providing cultural opportunities to the public. These opportunities include the visual, performing and literary arts.

Organizations such as Lake Writers, Lake Players and Lakeside Singers are among those that will be on hand at Resurrection Catholic Church in Moneta, where it will be held. In addition to finding out more about the affiliates, expo-goers can learn more about SMAC, which could, in turn, generate interest and help fill several seats that will come open on the SMAC board next year.

Dittrich said the council welcomes all levels of support, whether it is the volunteering time or donating to the group's mission. Some of the funding for its activities comes from the Virginia Commission of the Arts. The rest comes from the lake community itself. SMAC uses some of the funds to award several fine arts scholarships to area students who are interested in the visual, performing or literary arts.

Another of SMAC's initiatives has been to bring a wider variety of performing arts to the lake. To do so, SMAC is working with organizations such as the Bower Center for The Arts in Bedford.

One of the most successful events was a performance by Lawrence Juber, a guitarist who played with Wings. People came from as far away as Lexington to hear him play.

"We want to be more inclusive," said President Mike Dittrich. "In the past, the perception of SMAC was it was kind of a closed organization. A lot of the concerts or special events were done in someone's house, and even though they were open to the public, I think a lot of people were hesitant to attend a concert in someone's house."

SMAC now utilizes area churches such as Resurrection Catholic or Trinity Ecumenical to host its events. Although they are not large venues, they do open up the events to more people.

The expo, which is free, runs from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. A social hour/dinner will follow the expo. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own dinner; dessert and table settings will be provided.

Joyce Dittrich said the short annual meeting that will follow the dinner and the event will be capped off with live entertainment.

"I would love it if we had a venue out here," said Mike Dittrich. "At some point in time, I would like to see something a variety of organizations could use. I would also like the lake to be considered an arts community with galleries and music events happening weekly or twice a week."

Smith Mountain Lake Arts Council, www.smithmountainartscouncil.com, info@smithmountainartscouncil.com

SMAC Arts Expo and Annual Meeting

When: Oct 17, 4:30-7:30 p.m.

Where: Resurrection Catholic Church, 15353 Moneta Road, Moneta

Cost: Free and open to the public

Contact: Joyce Dittrich at joycedittrich@gmail.com