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Arts Council board and staff members recently toasted to a successful year, which will be celebrated at their first annual Artoberfest on Saturday, Oct. 16, from 5 to 10 p.m. at the corner of Limestone Street and Xenia Avenue. Beer, wine and food will be available at the seasonal celebration and fundraiser. From the left, front row, are Carole Braun, Kathy Reed and Phyllis Schmidt; in the back row are Lisa Hunt, Nick Gaskins, Joanne Caputo and Anita Brown. (photo by Megan Bachman)

‘Artoberfest’ celebrates the arts

This year the Yellow Springs Arts Council has a lot to celebrate, as it hired its first staff member, opened a new office and gallery space and organized the successful summer Yellow Springs Experience. In hosting Artoberfest, part-fundraiser and part-seasonal celebration, this weekend, the Arts Council commemorates its recent accomplishments and ensures it can organize more local arts activities in the future.

At the first annual Artoberfest on Saturday, Oct. 16, from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Barr property at Limestone Street and Xenia Avenue in downtown Yellow Springs, seasonal beers, wine, food and live music will be featured, along with brewing demonstrations and a “Finest Stein” contest, where the most artistic beer container will be judged by local artists and celebrities. Tickets are $10 in advance at www.yellow-springs-experience.org and $15 at the gate, while Arts Council members or those under 21 can get in for $5.

In addition to supporting the activities of the Arts Council, Artoberfest attendees get to enjoy a big community party where they can pay to sample beers, including Great Lakes’ Oktoberfest and Bell’s Oberon, buy food and wine, and listen to the music of Chris Herford, Slipstream and the Undercovered.

“We want to remind people that we’re about more than visual arts,” said board president Anita Brown of the event, whose artistic components include beer crafting, culinary arts and music, not to mention the art of the beer stein.

“The Arts Council is really committed to supporting all kinds of creativity,” executive director Carole Braun said. Recently the group expanded its definition of art to include 13 different creative areas — from theater, design and dance to wellness, media and environmental arts. By reaching out to local artists of all types, the recently-revitalized Arts Council looks to grow its membership, act as a central hub in connecting artists with youth and seniors, and facilitate collaboration among artists.

Artoberfest also kicks off the Arts Council’s  membership drive. The organization offers its 120 members, mostly local artists, insurance coverage for their events, a Web site for online ticket sales, publicity and gallery space. Arts Council can also act as a fiscal agent for artists who are not designated nonprofits to receive foundation and government grants and as an advocate for arts in the community.

“We’re doing our part to get art on the radar screen,” Brown said. “Obviously we all enjoy art, but we need to recognize that it’s integral to who and what Yellow Springs is. Having access to art and having art be prevalent increases our quality of life.”

The Arts Council, which has been active since the 1970s, was transformed in 2008 when it merged with the ad hoc Center for the Arts steering committee, a group funded by the Morgan Family Foundation. The previous incarnation held art classes out of the John Bryan Center and focused primarily on visual arts. Now the Arts Council looks to strengthen all forms of art community-wide, beginning with a survey of local artists.

“We want to identify who they are, what they’re doing, if they’re making a living and how can we help them,” Brown said. The resulting database of local artists could be used to connect artists working in the same genres and to help community groups like schools access artists.

Membership in the Arts Council starts at $30 and is for artists and art appreciators alike. Discounts at events, including Artoberfest, is one perk of membership. Other events tentatively on the calendar are a Valentine’s Day ball, “Fall in Love with the Arts,” a wellness and healing weekend around the spring equinox, and a reprise of the summer Yellow Springs Experience, an event that featured arts, wellness and eco-tourism and that organizers hailed as an unprecedented community collaboration.

In addition to a cultural boon, the Arts Council views art as vital to the Yellow Springs economy.

“People are drawn here for the arts,” Brown said, including the tourists who come to visit galleries and enjoy street musicians and young families who choose to move to town.

Ohio Arts Council research has shown that for every one dollar spent locally on art, another seven dollars is spent in the community, according to Braun.

“We’re committed to doing more work to economically support artists,” she said.

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