ELKINS — Following nearly a decade of bringing quality arts and music to the region, Randolph County Community Arts Center Executive Director Kurt Barkley has resigned his position.
“For more than 20 years, the Arts Center has been an important part of this community, and I wish the Board (of Directors) well,” Barkley said.
Barkley grew up in Elkins, lived in Philadelphia for 17 years, and worked in management for 10 years and for non-profit organizations. A foreign experts scholar, he taught English and literature at China Coal Economic College and Yantai University and was a member of the Yantai Chamber of Commerce.
But his travels eventually brought him full circle back to the Elkins community when in April 2013 he took over the helm of the RCCAC and its Arts Center, located in the 1928 hand-cut sandstone church building formerly housing St. Brendan Catholic Church.
During Barkley’s tenure, classes at the center for all age groups rose to as many as more than 400 students per year in painting, pottery, stained-glass art and music. Barkley’s administration oversaw the establishment of 1 Park St., the Arts Center’s Pottery studio, equipped with seven Pottery wheels, three kilns, plenty of shelf space and a large room for hand-building clay vessels and sculptures.
Events at the Arts Center have included art and music classes for youths and adults, a Pottery and stained-glass studio, open studio opportunities for pottery, two galleries featuring several exhibits each year from local artists including the Youth Art Month exhibit of local children’s school artwork.
Barkley initiated a blues and jazz series of concerts presented in a cafe setting featuring local and regional musicians. This past summer, the Arts Center Hosted the Royalpalooza Jazz Concert Series in tribute to Royal Stokes, an author of jazz-related articles who resided in Elkins.
“We thank Kurt for his efforts to make art and music accessible to the community,” said RCCAC Board of Directors President Mary Smakula. “Kurt emphasized opportunities for children including the Halloween Spooktacular in past years and the providing of a venue for the recent Our Town Scarecrow Scavenger Hunt.”
She said the RCCAC Board of Directors is working to have an interim director in place soon.
Although leadership of the RCCAC will change, quality programming at the Arts Center will continue uninterrupted to feature a full slate of activities in coming weeks, including noon Brown Bag Concert performances by Classical guitarist John Merrill on Nov. 16 and Christmas tunes by pianist/vocalist Raymond Godwin on Dec. 21.
Shoppers may browse for special handcrafted treasures for holiday gift-giving – including handmade pottery, jewelry, fabric art and other original designed objects – during the annual Artists Market scheduled for Dec. 2 and 3.
The young and young-at-heart will enjoy a showing of the Christmas classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life” is Dec. 17 in the Arts Center’s Great Hall.
The Arts Center is located on the corner of Randolph Avenue and Park Street. Plenty of free parking is available. The center is committed to the accommodation of all people with disabilities and specially designed parking spaces are conveniently located behind the office facing Elkins City Park.
For additional information, contact the RCCAC at 304-637-2355, or visit its website, www.randolparts.org.