Like the rest of you, with the holiday season upon us and usual festivities inching closer, the Academy Center of the Arts family is wrapping up the year 2021. As excited children all over the world will run to their tree and open up presents on Christmas morning, we want to offer up one of the best gifts of all, memories.
However difficult or wonderful this year was for you, we hope you were able to join us at a show or event at least once throughout these past twelve months. Whether it was for a laugh with your family, to purchase a piece of art from the gallery, or to create something in the pottery studio, we hope the Academy provided a new outlet for memory-making this year for you and yours. As we prepare to be home with our own families for the holidays, we want to reflect on the past three-hundred-and-sixty-five days by sharing some of the moments and memories that made this year one to remember.
Throughout the duration of 2021, we’ve had an array of performances, events, classes, and many more happenings both on and off the Academy’s campus.
In our Historic Academy Theatre, dazzling artists and performers of all types brought their unique talents to the stage. We sang along all night with Country Music Star Trace Adkins, awed at Magician Justin Willman who showcased some of his most mesmerizing tricks, and laughed until our ribs were sore with Comedian Fortune Feimster, who told audience members endless jokes.
Some performers came from right here in Lynchburg, such as the 434 Drumline, a combination of instrumentalists from local high schools. Box Office Manager, Guy Mavinga, voices their performance was his favorite event from 2021, “I loved that we were able to bring together local high school performers for a collaborative percussion performance and all during a pandemic!”
Acts also came from far away, like Cary Elwes, lead of classic 1987 film The Princess Bride, who came to the Academy from the United Kingdom. Development Associate, Hannah Cohen, says, “The Princess Bride movie and Q&A with Cary Elwes was my favorite because I got to see this classic film in the Historic Theatre with my family!”
In our Academy Art Galleries, local artists shared pieces of their hearts and artwork with patrons for a total of twelve successful First Fridays. Artists such as Alex Sayer, Amy Buczyck, and Claire Stankus shared their own craft with the Academy, whether it came from their home or a professional studio. At this monthly event, local art lovers are called to come and indulge in all creative forms, often with the addition of live music stylings ranging from jazz to folk tunes.
Geoffrey Kershner, Executive Director, notes, “Madison House of the Arts Gallery Show was my favorite of the year,” he says, “I loved how this broadened both the artists we serve and the gallery attendees. There was a palpable energy around the opening that was invigorating.”
This year, our Education Program flourished greatly through numerous talented and passionate students. They graced both our Historic Academy Theatre and Joy & Lynch Christian Warehouse Theatre stages with musicals such as Matilda, Sister Act, Peter and the Starcatcher, and more – where they taught us all about the spirit of finding a home in anywhere that you go. We are so glad that these students have found their own home within the Academy, no matter where they came from or where they may go in their bright futures, they know that “rehearsal” is always more than just that. Education Manager, Kelli Johnson, praises AYT’s most recent production, Elf the Musical, “Working on Elf the Musical with such a strong group of students and a passionate team,” she says, “We have a dynamic group of people who are passionate about bringing joy through theater to our community and I’m blessed to be a part of it.”
The Academy in Motion Art Bus, a new installation this year, aids in bringing arts to all students in our surrounding community. From sharing art with the community at Jubilee to hosting a Trunk or Treat event at TC Miller, the AIM Bus shares the Academy with everyone – including those that might not be able to make it on our physical campus.
In our Art and Pottery Studios, creators and artists alike engaged in a variety of classes. For the painters in our community, we offered lessons in the Peggy Burruss Art Studio with levels ranging from Youth Art to Advanced, a few of these being, Intro to Painting, Painting with Oils, Pet Portraits, and more! For those who are more fond of clay, a wide variety of sessions occurred in the May Carter Pottery Studio. There is truly something for everyone within the walls of our studios – for potters, in particular, some of these include, Clay Lab, Pottery Basics and Beyond, and Young Potters.
Many of these art students and others in the community were able to display their hard work at our first-ever annual Holiday Maker’s Market, held in the Warehouse Theatre, where all were invited to shop small with some of Lynchburg’s best vendors. Director of Operations, Tabitha Abbott, voices, “I LOVED the Maker’s Market and am really proud of it! We brought local art vendors to Downtown Lynchburg on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday and they did so well,” she exclaims, “It was a great vibe and I look forward to making this an annual event!”
This year was all about creativity, adaptability, and innovation. With the COVID-19 pandemic still being a factor within our organization, the Academy had to get imaginative in order to continue bringing life to the theatre.
“The Gala Dinner in the Street was my favorite,” voices Director of Finance, Kimberly Morey. “It was an amazing feat of party planning, diplomacy with the City, and strong determination to get something done that’s never been done before.” This event also earned a vote from David Garrett, Facilities Manager, and Sarah Proctor, Rentals Manager.
If there is one thing the Academy staff loves more than art, it’s people – meeting new ones, keeping up with old ones, and learning more about all of the faces who make up the Lynchburg community and beyond. Patron Services Manager, Mallory Booker, felt the Sunset on 7th Concert Series was her favorite of the year, where everyone came together outside to unite through music.
Ticketed Performances Manager, Anna Wehr, states, “I’ve enjoyed meeting our visiting artists who’ve come from different parts of the world to share their talents,” she says, “Most people often only know artists by the work they produce, but I get to meet these artists on a human level. It was especially fun to work with the Champions of Magic cast and crew, I created bonds with their team in just one day.”
As we look towards the New Year and question all of the endless outcomes and possibilities – the Academy Center of the Arts promises to stay the same. We will continue to be a constant place for entertainment, a smile on a bad day, a lover of our community and all of the people within it. But most of all, we will continue to be the number one cheerleader for the arts, to 2022 and beyond. We are endlessly thankful to all of our patrons, sponsors, supporters, staff, and all of the people who help keep the Academy the same, no matter what year it is.
Happy Holidays – from our family to yours.
With lots of art, love, and gratitude,
The Academy Center of the Arts
Your Local Arts Center
Now that you know our favorites, let’s hear from all of you!
“Eating chocolate cake in Matilda!” [email protected]_.hicks
“My art show in the Ann White Gallery and being interviewed on stage for MIX” [email protected]
“Kelli Johnson getting hired!!” [email protected]
“Being a part of the Marsha P Johnson Art Show!” [email protected]
“Got to see Matilda with my five-year-old daughter. We’re still singing the songs!” [email protected]
“Meeting Cville Ballet’s Clara! Our sweet girl dressed up as Clara to meet her!” [email protected]
“The youth theater program for sure!!!” [email protected]
“Matilda!!!” [email protected]
“Dinner in the street!” [email protected]
“Hackensaw Boys!” [email protected]
“Seeing my girl in her first show, Honk Jr.!!” [email protected]_wallin
“Going to see Fortune with my best friend!” [email protected]
“My son finally getting to be in a play at the summer camp” [email protected]