Cultural leaders, advocates to confer on future of arts, humanities in state

AUBURN – Leaders of and advocates for cultural and historical organizations across Alabama will meet at Auburn University’s Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 25, for a summit on the future of the arts and humanities in the state.

Participants in the “Advancing Our Cultural Imprint” summit will discuss what the arts and humanities bring to civic life and the impact of current economic conditions on their viability and future. Charles McCrary, president and CEO of Alabama Power Company and a member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees, will present the keynote address.

Hosted by the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn, the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, the Alabama Museums Association and the Alabama Humanities Foundation, the summit will bring together directors, curators and board members of Alabama museums, historical sites, performing arts centers, libraries and other institutions in public education, culture, the arts and the humanities.

In addition to McCrary, speakers include Ed Bridges of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Al Head of the Alabama State Council on the Arts, T. C. Coley of the Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center, Gail Andrews of the Birmingham Museum of Art, Shirley Spears of Sylacauga’s B. B. Comer Memorial Library and Alabama Humanities Foundation Director Robert Stewart. Time will also be devoted to a question and answer session involving audience members.

But the summit is not limited to experts. Organizers say anyone interested in the arts and humanities is invited to register and attend.

Anna Gramberg, dean of Auburn’s College of Liberal Arts, said the gathering is intended to foster discussion about the role of the arts and humanities in civic life.

“Alabama boasts some of the richest cultural and educational resources in the nation and it is incumbent upon us to ask how they are used, how they are supported and how access to them can be maximized,” Gramberg said. “These are especially important questions in times of economic hardship.”

While arts, humanities and cultural institutions are often the first to feel the budget pinch, Gramberg said cultural tourism, including the arts, theater and historical sites, makes an important contribution to the economy of many states, including Alabama.

“The summit will give us a chance to look at what that means in Alabama and talk about how we can come together to improve everyone’s bottom line,” Gramberg said.

She added, “Of course, we are also turning out graduates who will seek jobs and a high quality of life, which includes opportunities for enrichment, education and entertainment. Unless we can imagine life without books, music, heritage sites or theater, it is important that we talk about where we are and where we want to be in the future.”

To register for the summit or for more information, go to www.jscm.auburn.edu/summit or call the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts at (334) 844-4946. Registration is $20 and includes lunch. With limited seating available, summit organizers encourage early registration.

(Contributed by Roy Summerford and Maiben Beard.)

Contact: Jay Lamar, (334) 844-4947 (lamarja@auburn.edu), or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)