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Berkeley County artists look to form new alliance

April 10, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - About 30 local artists worked Sunday to form an organization to represent them during a lively meeting which centered around how the group would be structured.

Some local artists do not feel they are well represented in the Berkeley County area and want to form an organization that will represent all types of artists such as painters, poets, musicians, potters and metal crafters, some of those attending the meeting said.

Some artists at the meeting said they also are concerned about the new Arts Centre in Martinsburg and believe too much emphasis is being placed on the facility rather than artists.

Meeting at the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library, the artists heard from Bill Clark, husband of a local artist and who has background in how organizations are structured, said Annemarie Collins, a local artist who attended the meeting.

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Clark led the group through a discussion on bylaws and talked about how the organization would coordinate art events, work as an advocate for artists and offer assistance to art programs in schools.

The proposed name for the group was the Berkeley County Art Alliance, but one woman in the audience complained and said that sounded like it was part of a political group.

The group decided to change the name to the Art Alliance of Berkeley County and one artist said an advantage to that name is it would show up easier in a telephone book.

Clark said it is important for artists to connect with potential consumers.

Clark said many coffeehouses in larger metropolitan areas display art and it often pays off for artists interested in selling their work, Clark said.

"Why isn't it here?" Clark asked the group.

There is little of that type of promotion in Berkeley County because no one approaches businesses about showing art, Clark said.

The alliance can do that for artists, Clark said.

"It grows. There is no negative to it. It's strictly a positive," Clark said.

The executive director of the Arts Centre said Sunday night that its mission is to work with artists, but its primary mission is to serve the community through art programs.

"We are working with artists," said Topper Sherwood, who has been on the job about a month.

"We will work with the alliance when we see an opportunity," Sherwood said.

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