Art Utopia at the Leland Cultural Arts Center
Leland Cultural Arts Center Director Julianne Scott wants everyone to benefit from the center’s offerings.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Mark Steelman
Julianne Scott describes the Leland Cultural Arts Center as a utopian place. The new director of the center, she is working in her dream job and has many plans to grow the center’s offerings.
Scott graduated from East Carolina University with a degree in ceramics and art education and taught high school art in Greenville from 2004 to 2007. She then worked for the City of Greenville’s Recreation and Parks Department as the Recreation Supervisor of Arts and Crafts for eight and a half years.
In 2013 she got wind of plans for a future cultural arts center to be built in Leland and excitedly applied. She says something drew her to this new center, even before it was built.
“I just had a great feeling about this place,” she says. “It was my field of dreams, so to speak. I loved the fact that it was going to be a larger facility.”
She was disappointed when she didn’t get the director’s position when the center opened in March 2015. However, determined to find a new and exciting arts scene, she moved to Fuquay-Varina in November of 2015 and became the town’s Recreation Program Administrator. The new atmosphere wasn’t the arts center she had set her sights on. “It wasn’t quite what I expected,” Scott says.
But her dream soon came true when she received an email about the Leland Cultural Arts Center needing a new director
“I applied in December, had an interview in February and started in March, and I couldn’t be happier!” Scott says.
She currently lives in downtown Wilmington, but loves coming to work over the bridge, saying that the people of Leland are welcoming and supportive and interested in seeing the success of the center.
Scott’s excitement is infectious as she speaks of her staff and explains all that the center has to offer. LCAC has eight people on staff, and two of whom work full time. It has five arts administrative assistants, an art administrator supervisor, a pottery studio coordinator plus art instructors. “Our staff has great skill sets and fun personality,” Scott says. “I can’t say enough about them. They are wonderful!”
The center has an array of classes throughout the week to offer for children, teens and adults, including pottery, painting, drawing, jewelry making, theater acting, dancing, Jazzercise, yoga, Zumba and hoop fitness. LCAC doesn’t stop at offering classes. It hosts workshops, special speakers, concerts, events and summer camps for children ages 5 through 12. LCAC strives to keep things fresh and attract new and repeat participants by changing the calendar often.
The 18,000-square-foot building is impressive. Each room is fully equipped for its appropriate medium. For example, the painting/drawing room is stocked with easels, drawing tools and paints; the 225-seat capacity multipurpose room with a stage is equipped with a professional sound system and is big enough to hold meetings, banquets, parties, receptions and small theater/dance productions. The dance studio offers a ballet bar, a full-length mirrored wall and a sound system. The pottery studio has a plethora of glazes, three kilns and eight wheels. The multi-use classroom has a built-in projector and screen.
“Our multi-purpose room is available for rent and is perfect for occasions like wedding receptions and private parties,” Scott says. “People can even have alcohol at their events with a one-time permit.”
The center’s main doors open into a large, state-of-the-art Gallery Hall space. This space features a different art show every month; artists can apply to have their work shown in the gallery. “Artists can display and sell their work to the public,” Scott says. “They have one day where they can open with a reception and they provide the refreshments. We typically showcase local and regional artists, but artists from other regions may apply as well.” The month of January is reserved to showcase student-made art from the center.
It may seem like the center offers enough already, but Scott wants to offer more to keep up the momentum.
“We are getting equipment this summer for stained-glass making and the classes should be starting in September,” she says. “I am interested in starting a youth dance program, and right now I am looking for a dance instructor for youth ages 3 and older.”
She also would love to start sewing classes in the multi-use room and a healthy eating class for youth that would take advantage of the center’s kitchen.
Additionally, Scott wants to lead the center into twenty-first-century art. She is a proponent of adding art and design into STEM education, otherwise known as the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) movement. “I am interested in looking into a future grant to bring us into the new art age and add computer sculpting and printing, graphic design, Photoshop and other computer arts classes,” she says.
Scott is adamant about sharing all that the LCAC has to offer with the community. The center will start planning class schedules in advance on a September to February and a March to August schedule. This will give the community time to adequately plan and sign-up for the classes that interest them. Not only can the offerings be found on the website, but a printed catalog will go out to communities, schools, medical facilities, town hall and other places of business.
Scott is impressed with the amount of support that the community gives to LCAC. A local support system organization, the nonprofit Friends of the Leland Cultural Arts Center, started years before the center was even built. “They raise money for the center through hosting different events in the area,” Scott says. “They have even set up a children’s scholarship fund for those families in financial need. The great thing about this relationship is that together we can make more happen than the center can alone.”
Scott stresses that the classes at LCAC are economical and open to everyone, not only residents of Leland. She hopes to attract individuals from Wilmington as well. Nonresidents can register for classes with only an additional $10 fee.
“Our goal is that everyone can benefit from LCAC,” Scott says. “It’s a little jewel sitting right here and it’s going to be busting at the seams soon!”