January 2022 Arts InFocus


Each month, ArtsGreensboro brings you stories about artists, arts organizations, and individuals whose lives are infused with creativity. Join us in celebrating our vibrant city.

Photo credit: Wayne Reich, photographer, and videographer

Artists In Focus

The Music Academy of North Carolina

By Kellie Burgess, Executive Director

One thing that has never wavered throughout my thirty years of working at The Music Academy of NC is the quality of our teaching artists. We are honored to have a community of well-respected and experienced professional musicians working our mission and uncovering the creative spirit within us all. Our teachers make a tremendous difference in the lives of our students, and we take great care ensuring that our students are mentored by the very best, regardless of age, ability, or ambition. Most have advanced degrees, could work anywhere, and choose to be a part of our community.

Photo credit: Wayne Reich, photographer, and videographer

Teaching artists invest their whole selves into their work. They spend hours each week preparing and further developing themselves by practicing, exploring innovative lesson plans, and rehearsing for their next performance. Our faculty perform locally with the Greensboro Symphony, Winston-Salem Symphony, Old Time and bluegrass ensembles, NC Symphony, NC Opera, Bel Canto Company, Piedmont Wind Symphony, Salisbury Symphony, and many other esteemed ensembles across the country. They are professional accompanists, performers, presenters, composers, AND educators who amazingly balance many responsibilities while nurturing our souls and making us better humans.

A student of ours once said that “after two years of lessons, I am walking more nobly, shoulders back, breathing a little better, and the songbird in my soul and in my voice is resounding.” These words beautifully convey what I know to be true. Teaching artists build confidence, provide encouragement, and bestow the tools needed to improve and progress. We are continuously grateful for the many gifts they share, especially the gift of music.

For more information about The Music Academy of NC, please visit http://www.musicacademync.org/

Arts Happening

Piedmont Blues Preservation Society

By Atiba Berkley, President

35th Annual Carolina Blues Festival held May 15th, 2021 at LeBauer Park - Photo courtesy of Owens Daniels

My Name is Atiba Berkley. I am the President of Piedmont Blues Preservation Society and a lover of the culture of the African Diaspora.

Piedmont Blues Preservation Society has been here for 36 years, launching the Carolina Blues Festival each May and contributing quietly to the rich offerings here. I love to support varied communities. I help foster their growth beyond the consumption of Art towards deeper relationships with culture and with people of the artform. That is really where my heart lies and is at the center of my work with the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society.

Dom Flemons plays the 33rd Annual Carolina Blues Festival: Tribute to Blind Boy Fuller

What can I learn from the first 30+ years of our organization? How can I represent the Black Folk tradition of Blues, one of America’s only original musical styles? How can I help preserve one of the only named regional styles, a starting line for popular music, Piedmont Blues? Which collaborations add value to the work?

I spend time away from my wife and four children so I can find answers. I ask the questions and encourage conversations. I help raise funds to support the work of the Blues institution. Most importantly, I ask for help. Whether I’m building up PiedmontBlues.org or getting permits to launch the first festival downtown during a pandemic, I’m here, and I’m grateful. I can’t do it alone. Won’t you join me? We’ve set a goal to raise $250,000 towards #BuildingBluesFutures. Here’s to the next 36 years!

You can learn more about the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, the Carolina Blues Festival, Blues in the Schools, and additional information on membership and sponsorship opportunities by visiting https://piedmontblues.org/

AG Making it Work

By Leslie G. Buschmann

ArtsGreensboro Development Associate

In the two months that I have worked with ArtsGreensboro, I have been in awe of our donor generosity! Each and every patron – giving what is right for their financial circumstances – is truly appreciated and valued by everyone working here. We are entrusted with ensuring all contributions benefit our local arts.

Much of the support for ArtsGreensboro projects has come in the form of online giving. Nationally, the ease of online giving led to a 20.7% YOY increase in charitable donations in 2020. ArtsGreensboro has embraced this direction wholeheartedly since March of 2020, recording an increase of 23% in online giving. With a Gold rating from GuideStar charity watchdog, donors are assured monies donated to the United Arts Council of Greensboro/ArtsGreensboro are successfully reaching local arts organizations, projects, teachers, and artists to make a difference. Gifts to the ArtsFund support all our work, including our grant programs and relief funding, professional development, shared services, advocacy efforts, and more. Recently, in 2020, ArtsGreensboro established the Greensboro Artist Emergency Relief Fund, which raised and distributed over $100k directly to our creative citizens affected by the pandemic.

While charitable giving can help financially with your taxes, the Cleveland Clinic notes numerous scientific studies confirm an additional benefit to giving to others is an increase in our happiness and improvement of our mental and physical health. Whether you make a one-time gift or an effortless monthly recurring amount, the value in online giving is its simplicity and convenience. And as science proves, helping others has the wonderful bonus of helping yourself.

Thank you to every one of our donors!


Candid. (2021, October 7). UNITED ARTS COUNCIL OF GREATER GREENSBORO. GuideStar. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://www.guidestar.org/profile/56-0746180   

Cleveland Clinic. (2020, October 28). Why Giving Is Good for Your Health – Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-giving-is-good-for-your-health/   

Norton, M. I. (2008, June 2). Spending on Happiness – HBS Working Knowledge. HBS Working Knowledge. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/spending-on-happiness   

Thompson, A. (2021, February). Online Giving Trends. Blackbaud Institute. Retrieved December 17, 2021, from https://institute.blackbaud.com/charitable-giving-report/online-giving-trends /  

My Art Story

Triad Stage

By Justin Nichols, Director of Patron Engagement

Growing up in the foothills as part of a farming and textile family isn’t anything special around these parts. My family’s story is NC’s story of adjusting as one crop or industry is stripped away, leaving survivors to create their next path. 

The work frequently changed, but the rich Southern artistic traditions were constant. My grandmothers turned fabric scraps into masterpieces, my grandfathers handcrafted intricate furniture, and I often danced well past my childhood bedtime to all sorts of live music at our home. My Dad sang in a family quartet and led the choir at our church, where Mom directed elaborate holiday plays. 

Shortly after moving to the “big city” of Greensboro, I heard that a new theater with a Southern voice was being imagined Downtown. Within a year, I saw my UNCG classmates taking jobs alongside career artists. I fell in love with what was happening on Elm Street, and when my educational path called for an internship, I sought and found a home at Triad Stage.

As the small farms and mill towns before, the world has changed for Triad Stage, and it’s time to create our next path. Our community has new priorities. We’re no longer the only professional theatre house in town, fewer funders are interested in funding art for art’s sake alone, and we are navigating an overdue racial and labor reckoning. I’m proud to play my part with you in reimagining Triad Stage and look forward to making our artistic home yours.

For more information about Triad Stage, visit https://triadstage.org/