Tools for Arts Decision Making

January 2011

 The Jefferson County Commission has received notification from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts of the Certified Arts Community designation in November of 2010   The Arts and Humanities Alliance will work with other arts and humanities organizations as well as municipal and county leaders in the county to formulate a cultural planning strategy.

Click on the Links below to learn more about other WV Certified Arts Communities

Certified Arts Community - Elkins West Virginia

Read about Berkeley Spring WV and the benefits of becoming a Certified Arts Community.

Jefferson seeking arts designation

Officials say tag would help county’s economic development

By John McVey, Journal staff writer

POSTED: August 14, 2010

CHARLES TOWN - Efforts are in their preliminary stages to have Jefferson County certified as an arts community by the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, explained Steven Skinner, an attorney in Charles Town and a member of the WVCA.

"We're assembling a team to apply for Jefferson County to be a Certified Arts Community," he said in a recent telephone interview. "The point is how to bring groups together who are interested in the creative economy."

The West Virginia Certified Arts Community program was established in November 2005 by former Commissioner of Culture and History Troy Body, according to the Morgan County Arts Council website. Berkeley Springs was the first Certified Arts Community designated in West Virginia.

Communities must apply to be designated a CAC, which is granted by the state Commission on the Arts.

While the designation does not bring any financial assistance with it, it does allow a community to promote itself as an arts community to attract not only more artists and artisans, but arts consumers as well, all of which contribute to the local economy.

Skinner said he invited county, municipal and state leaders as well as arts and business leaders to an informal meeting earlier this year to begin the discussion of Jefferson County becoming a CAC.

"We can't focus all our economic development dollars on trying to attract new manufacturing plants to Jefferson County," Skinner said.

Thomas Bayuzik, executive director of the Jefferson County Development Authority, attended Skinner's meeting and agreed that economic diversity is essential to the economic health of a community.

"The arts is a part of any economy," he said in a recent telephone conversation. "It's important economically and can't be overlooked."

The challenge in Jefferson County is to get everyone on the same page, Bayuzik said.

"There's lots of good arts in Jefferson County, but no central organization," he said. "It doesn't seem to be as organized as in Morgan County, which has a strong arts organization."

The Arts and Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County seems to be the best organization to bring everyone together, Bayuzik said.

Pam Parziale and other members of the Arts and Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County, known as AHA, are taking the lead in applying for Jefferson County's arts community certification.

"We have to show that we can work cooperatively - municipalities, economic development, business community, arts and culture - present a united front to show the economic benefits the arts brings to the community," Parziale said in a recent telephone interview. "Arts is generally not acknowledged as an economic force."

A past president of the Arts and Humanities Alliance and a former member of the WVCA, she and her husband, Ren, raised four children in Jefferson County by "making pots out of clay," Parziale pointed out. They have operated the award-winning Sycamore Pottery near Leetown for about 40 years.

She emphasized that Jefferson County must work together to obtain the CAC designation.

"It's very important that Jefferson County - the entire county - be seen as a unified community in its application to be a CAC," Parziale said.

Writing the application will take time and a lot of work, she said. The next step is conducting roundtable discussions among the various parties, such as the arts community, government leaders and economic development professionals, she said.

Roundtable discussions are planned for October in Shepherdstown during AHA's annual member show, Parziale said, including a presentation by a representative from Lewisburg, which recently won its CAC.

She added that AHA is talking with West Virginia University about doing a survey to show the economic impact of the arts on Jefferson County.

"We want to present some facts and figures, some dollars and cents," Parziale said. "It's very exciting to get people together for the benefit of the arts economy."

- Staff writer John McVey can be reached at 304-263-3381, ext. 128, or