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Norwin residents form arts council

| Sunday, May 12, 2013, 11:58 p.m.

A newly formed group is sketching out an inventory of local artists and arts-related groups with the intent of providing residents with quick information about the Norwin area's arts community.

“The Norwin Area Arts Council would kind of be almost an umbrella organization,” founder Kathleen Heuer said.

The Norwin Area Arts Council, a volunteer organization making its debut this year, is dedicated to supporting and promoting visual and performing arts. The group's purpose is threefold: to advocate for the arts, to bolster awareness of arts events and activities, and to encourage growth of arts opportunities.

Heuer said she started with the idea to begin a website compiling information about area artists and art agencies. She remembers when she moved to the community with young children and struggled to find information about local dance studios and piano lessons.

The group has started a website, Facebook page and Twitter account, each showcasing information such as a summer theater camp, school band concerts and articles about the benefits of the arts.

Ian Morrison, a Norwin music teacher, writes for the council's website about music and arts events in the school district. Morrison said he “immediately was on board” when he heard the idea for the group.

“I loved the idea that she had of kind of centralizing all the arts organizations in and around the Norwin community,” Morrison said.

The Norwin Art League, which hosts year-round classes and sells art supplies at its location along Main Street in Irwin, would fall under the council's umbrella.

Pat Vaughn, president of the Norwin Art League, called the new group “very positive.”

“I think it's just going to bring it all together,” she said. “The dance people have their own thing and the music people and the art people. I think it's a good thing to bring them all together. With different organizations together, we'd become stronger.”

The Norwin Area Arts Council will attend events including sponsoring a “chalk the block” activity for children at Irwin's summer Art and Jazz Nights.

“On the business side of things, we're going to start looking at creating a formal inventory of the artists and arts organization in the area,” Heuer said.

In addition, the group will file for nonprofit status, said Heuer, who also founded Relight the Lamp, a group seeking to reopen the long-vacant 1930s-era movie theater along Irwin's Main Street.

Ideas include advocacy and events.

“We could work with local school districts to make sure that arts classes aren't cut and that budgeting is handled for arts in the schools,” Heuer said. “Basically just educating people — everyone from the school board to parents — about the advantages of arts education.”

Heuer cited arts festivals and performances in the park as events the council could consider hosting.

“In my perfect world, it would be great if we could move to sponsor events,” she said. “We're kind of really open to wherever the community demand takes us. ... I know there's a lot of arts-related grants out there that we might be able to start seeking.”

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or rskena@tribweb.com.

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