TACL raises funds to support public art

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

The art scene surrounding the Williamsburg area is diverse and full of surprises, from sweeping orchestral concerts at the Kimball Theatre to the intricacies of a fresh sculpture in the arts district.

The logistics behind such artsy activities are no small feat, and that's where organizations like the Triangle Arts and Culture League (TACL) come into play.

Terry Buntrock is TACL's founder and cheif executive officer. A painter, gardener and writer, she gained experience volunteering as a docent for the Muscarelle Museum and running the Occasion for the Arts.

"That really put me in the world of local arts," she said, and in 2006, Williamsburg's city manager approached her to serve as the area's regional arts coordinator. "All of those things kept pulling me toward the arts."

TACL is the fundraising arm of that effort, and the money it raises goes into creating public arts events and supporting the infrastructure surrounding them.

"There was just not an organization around to do it," TACL president Greg Lilly said. His background working with the arts commissions of Williamsburg and Sedona, Arizona, taught him the complexities behind supporting the arts.

"We're trying to bring awareness," he said. "There's public art here, but a lot of people take it for granted."

It can be difficult to court volunteers and accrue funds necessary to bring ideas like the Thomas Jefferson statue in Merchant's Square to life. To help with that, TACL acts as an umbrella over other organizations like the College of William and Mary, the Yorktown Foundation and the Williamsburg Book Club.

"The amount of work is just incredible that these organizations are doing," Lilly said.

"Each one is unique and each one has their own special perspective," Buntrock said. The book club recently launched RainLit, a literary works series where text appears on area sidewalks, but only when it rains. "We have done some really fun projects."

TACL launched last year with the help of a private donor, who preferred to remain anonymous. The donor pledged $100,000 over four years, with half of that delivered so far. The organization has also received tourism funding from Williamsburg and James City County.

Buntrock praised "great institutions" in the area like the Muscarelle Museum and the new American Revolution Museum.

"With our history here, we have that great American craftsmanship heritage that is with us through and through," she said. "That creates a mindset of high expectations for the arts."

More money, more art

The upcoming art&garden event is TACL's major fundraiser for this year. It's a three-day affair that brings in experts in home, horticulture, architecture and more.

"Everything works together," Lilly said. "That's what we're celebrating. It's nature and creativity all together."

Much of the money raised will go toward funding free concerts as a part of the Williamsburg Fall Arts initiative later this year. TACL is hoping for strong ticket sales at the fundraiser to help in that endeavor.

"We have some really amazing speakers," Buntrock said, emphasizing their broad appeal.

TACL has other events lined up as well. Art on the Square, a juried art show hosted in conjunction with the Junior Woman's Club of Williamsburg, is on Sunday. The organization also worked with the Aura Curiatlas Physical Theatre to bring its show of dancing and acrobatics to the Kimball Theatre on May 6 and 7. And there's more to come.

"It really keeps the locals involved. It shows visitors what a vibrant community we have," Lilly said. "That just adds to the whole texture of the community."

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

Want to go?

TACL's art&garden event

When: Thursday through Sunday.

Details: Thursday's opening celebration is $25 or free for league members. Friday features classes and presentations; Saturday features garden tours and a tablescape design contest. Friday tickets are $94, Saturday tickets are $86 and both days are $160.

For more info and to register online, visit tacl-va.org.

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