(Durham, NC) Raleigh dramatist Ian Finley has started his year of activities as the region's 2012 Piedmont Laureate and will be presenting five programs in Durham County, co-sponsored by the Durham Arts Council and the Durham County Library.
The Piedmont Laureate Program is dedicated to building a literary bridge for residents to come together and celebrate the art of writing. Co-sponsored by the Durham Arts Council, the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, Alamance County Arts Council, Orange County Arts Commission and United Arts Council of Raleigh & Wake County, the program’s mission is to “promote awareness and heighten appreciation for excellence in the literary arts throughout the Piedmont region.” Programs in Durham County are co-sponsored by the Durham County Library. The program focuses on a different literary form each year (poetry in 2009, novel in 2010, creative non-fiction in 2011 and dramatist/screenwriter in 2012).
Mr. Finley's duties include presenting public readings and workshops, participating at select public functions and creating at least one original activity to expand appreciation of the work of dramatists in literature. A schedule of the Laureate’s 2012 activities in all four counties is posted on the Piedmont Laureate website at www.piedmontlaureate.com.
“We are looking forward to working with Ian in his new role as Piedmont Laureate, commented Sherry DeVries, Executive Director of the Durham Arts Council. We are familiar with his work as a teaching artist, and know that the community will enjoy getting to know him as an ambassador for the literary arts." Mr. Finley will conduct two programs at the Durham County Library, appear before City Council for Arts & Humanities Month, and present programs at The Forest at Duke and CroasdaileVillage.
The Library programs are scheduled for July 12, 7:00 PM, at the Main Durham County Library and November 8, 7:00 PM, at the Southern Regional Branch. The July program will focus on the process of creating a play out of a historic site or event. Mr. Finley believes that theatre plays an importat role in preserving and reviving our local history.
Working primarily with Burning Coal Theatre Company, he has brought more than 70 different stories from the area’s history to life on stage through collaborations with Historic Oakwood Cemetery, the Mordecai House, Raleigh City museum, the Town of Cary and other North Carolina organizations, focusing on his realization that relevant, effective drama is necessarily connected to place. His historical plays, combining multiple stories within a tapestry structure and often performed in actual locations relevant to the narrative, are a unique addition to the area’s cultural life.
Mr. Finley's community project--working title "Up from the Ground"- is also based in creating a script from local content. Mr. Finley is planning to create a script based on stories from the chain of local food production and consumption, collecting anecdotes and reflections from local farmers to restaurants and food banks using locally sourced food. In Durham, Mr. Finley is working with the owners of locally sourced food trucks and restaurants. In Alamance County he will be working with farmers, with a produce processing plant in Orange County and with food delivery systems in Wake County.
“As a teacher, I have encountered diverse attitudes towards great literature: that it is a luxury to enjoy, a chore to endure, or an obstacle to fear,” says Mr. Finley. “It is none of these. Instead, it is a fundamental tool. It is the crowbar we use to escape the prison of the self and understand others. It is the hammer that builds up communities and the bridges between them. It is the light that gives us direction and hope. Literature is not for “someone else.” It can, and must, empower all of us, no matter our background or current position. This is the belief that motivates me, and which I hope to promote as Piedmont Laureate.”
Mr. Finley studied theatre at the University of Utah and received an MFA in Dramatic Writing from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. His work during that time focused on drama as a means of dialogue. Most notable was The Nature of the Nautilus, commissioned for a group of deaf actors to perform in sign language, which dealt with the controversy of cochlear implants (surgically implanted devices that provide a sense of sound to the deaf and hard of hearing). The Nature of the Nautilus was awarded the 2002 Jean Kennedy Smith Award for a play dealing with themes of disability.
Currently, Mr. Finley is Director of Education for Burning Coal, heading its WillPower residency programs, its Summer Theatre Conservatories, and many other programs.
For more information about the Piedmont Laureate program, visit www.piedmontlaureate.com; contact Margaret DeMott, Director of Artist Services, at email@example.com or 919-560-2720; or call any of the other sponsor agencies of the program.
Durham Arts Council
Durham Arts Council, Inc. (DAC) is a private, 501( c) (3) not-for-profit organization that “promotes excellence in and access to the creation, experience, and active support of the arts for all the people of our community.” Each year DAC provides programs, services, and support for more than 60 arts organizations and 900+ individual artists in our region, plus more than 311,000 program participants and visitors to DAC that it serves through classes, artist residencies, exhibits, festivals, grant programs, technical support, arts advocacy and information services.
As one of the oldest arts councils in the United States, and historically one of the strongest in North Carolina, Durham Arts Council fills four major roles in the region through which it carries out its mission:
- DAC manages, programs and operates the Durham Arts Council building at 120 Morris St. in historic downtown Durham – this City-owned facility is an extraordinary community resource for Durham and the Triangle Region.
- DAC develops and delivers year-round, high quality, accessible arts programs, services and information for the public and arts community.
- DAC is the major service provider to the arts and cultural community as the local arts agency for this region. DAC conducts advocacy for the arts and builds resources for the arts in Durham.
- DAC operates the Durham Arts Council Annual Arts Fund which raises funds to support its programs and services for the community and funds its grants programs that support arts organizations and artists. DAC is a United Arts Fund and Business Committee for the Arts affiliate of Americans for the Arts.
More information about Durham Arts Council programs and giving opportunities are available by calling (919) 560-2787 or online at www.durhamarts.org.