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This week: charlotte gadberry: founder and president of acansa arts festivat.

Acansa seems to have sprung up full grown, but there had to be a seed that started it. Where did the idea of Acansa come from and what is its goal or mission? My husband, Jim, and I happened upon the visual and performing arts festival Spoleto USA two years ago when we were in Charleston, South Carolina. We were blown away by the caliber of performances and the excitement in the community. At home, I met with city officials and the heads of our community's arts organizations about a visual and performing arts festival. I received a great response, and that was the beginning of the Acansa Arts Festival. The mission of Acansa is to increase audience participation in visual and performing arts, promote the cultural vitality of our state and generate opportunities for local commerce throughout central Arkansas.

How will it be different from other festivals? And is it designed for locals or do you hope it will become a regional draw? Acansa will be different because it includes visual, performing, music and theater arts and will be held in approximately 20 different venues and 14 art galleries across Little Rock and North Little Rock. There is truly something for everyone, which makes it great for locals and helps position the festival to be a regional draw.

How much will Acansa cost to produce and how it is being paid for? Is there a full-time staff, or will that come with time? Our startup expenses and first-year festival budget combined are close to $500,000 in performance-related costs and local business pro bono services. This inaugural festival, right up until the first of September, has been100 percent volunteer-driven. with enough funds raised to produce quality programming without an established track record. We are eternally grateful to our generous sponsors, business partners and donors who have made Acansa possible, and we plan to add full-time paid staff as soon as it is feasible.

Decades ago, many new festivals were being started. Now it seems like many have run out of steam and fewer are being created. Is that a correct perception? What makes this a good time for Acansa to launch? The success of the Arkansas Literary Festival and the Little Rock Film Festival within the past decade suggest a signature fine arts festival will be a different and positive addition to the local festival lineup. Additionally, the collaboration from our area arts organizations, galleries and artists concerning Acansa has been overwhelming. We can support their collaboration and collective effort to lift up the arts in central Arkansas by supporting Acansa.

Festivals can be risky. Can you share any valuable advice you have received? Any new undertaking like Acansa is risky, but Arkansans are tremendously generous with time and money when offered the opportunity to educate and entertain our citizens while encouraging new and local businesses. We have drawn from the experiences of Spoleto USA. and its advice and counsel have been invaluable.

Acansa Arts Festival will be held Sept. 23-28 at various venues in Little Rock and North Little Rock.

RELATED ARTICLE: Bio: Charlotte Gadberry

Career: For the past 20 years, Gadberry has owned Charlotte Gadberry I Consulting in Little Rock. She sold real estate in the 1970s, followed by management and development jobs with the Arkansas 1 Easter Seals Society and St. Vincent Infirmary and its foundation.

Civic: Gad berry is a past chairman of the board of the Centers for Youth & Families Foundation, a past president of the Rotary Club of Little Rock and a past president of the Donald W. Reynolds Institute AI on Aging at UAMS.
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Title Annotation:Exec Q&A
Publication:Arkansas Business
Geographic Code:1U7AR
Date:Sep 8, 2014
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