The NEA, and why it Matters

by Delia McDevitt

The arts affect everyone. No matter your color, creed, or personal interests, the arts have an impact on everyone in some way. If a person enjoys watching movies, they are participating in the arts. If a person purchases music, they are supporting the arts. Art is all around us, and the arts have a protector. The NEA, or National Endowment for the Arts, is the federal organization that provides support and funding for the arts in every congressional district of the United States. In 1965, congress created this agency to inspire creativity, increase appreciation of culture, and uphold tradition of the arts. The NEA supports music, museums, dance, theater, literature, research, and many other artistic endeavors. The agency’s funding of the arts is of the utmost importance; the arts boost self-esteem, cultural awareness, and allow people to express their emotions in a healthy way.

However, this essential program is under attack. The new presidential administration is trying to eliminate federal funding of the NEA, as well as the NEH (National Endowment for Humanities), and plan to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Trump’s team has been considering deep budget cuts to the NEA for a while now, and supporters of the arts are using their talents and abilities to protest such a drastic adjustment. Those whose lives center around the arts - and some allies - believe that a major reduction of funding would be detrimental to the lives of many Americans.

In an article by The Heritage Foundation, author Stuart Butler labels the NEA as “welfare for artists.” He claims that the NEA is unnecessary, and the program regularly funds art that is “offensive” to many Americans. Butler, and others with similar views, believe that the NEA is a waste of federal dollars. Such people think that this program actually hinders people’s ability to make good art, and that federal money should be going elsewhere. For example, many people who believe the NEA should be defunded want the money to go to the military.

However, if the NEA is defunded, the arts will have no protector. Many Americans depend on this agency to provide funding for their passion. In an article by the NEA, a staff member describes the importance of the organization’s work in one simple, yet profound sentence: “The arts matter because they help us to understand how we matter.”

Slashing funds for the NEA would leave support for the arts in the hands of the wealthy. The NEA distributes money to the states, which then distribute money to colleges, museums, theaters, and other community programs. However, if grants were withdrawn, funding for the arts is left to only the people who can afford to do so. For example, the wealthiest man in town may enjoy strolling through an art museum and admiring the pieces, but may dislike theater. Therefore, he would give lots of money to the museum, and the theater would be left to survive on scraps of miniscule donations. If the theater cannot survive on miniscule donations, it is then forced to either shut down or operate with little necessary props and equipment.

Furthermore, the arts boost the economy. According to a statistic from the NEA, in 2013, the arts contributed $704.2 billion to the United States economy. That number was 4.2% of the gross domestic product (GDP) for that year. Creative jobs play an important role in our country. In fact, 4.7 million people hold jobs in the cultural and arts sector. If the NEA was defunded, such projects may slow or cease and jobs would be lost due to lack of funding, resulting in a decrease of money going into the economy.

Some may think defunding the NEA would have no impact on our community, but this is not true. The NEA gives grant money to the Tennessee Arts Commission. The Tennessee Arts Commission has given money to local schools and programs, in order to increase art and culture in Henry County. Beneficiaries include the Downtown Paris Association, Paris Henry County Arts, and Paris Special School District. NEA grants do not go directly to certain projects, but works by trickling down from federal, to state, and finally to local. Without the National Endowment for the arts, our community would be lacking in culture and creativity.

Supporting the arts is important. The NEA is important. The arts help us understand and deal with the problems facing our world today. Everything we do is expressed through art. We can not allow this new administration to take away our country’s voice - to silence us. Supporting the arts is important. Support the NEA.

Our Showcase Series is EXPANDING!

Spring for the Arts Council has meant time to celebrate the wonderful visual artists in our community for many years, and this year we are going to start even earlier!

PHC Arts will be kicking off our showcases on February 5th with our first Young Artist Showcase. This showcase will exhibit artists from Kindergarten through High School and will include a variety of mediums. What better way to start the year than to have an exhibition of the inspiring young talent from our community? If you know a budding artist who would like to participate, the entry is free and you can sign up easily right on our website.

As if that isn't exciting enough, thanks to our generous sponsors we are offering free workshops to these local young artists each Saturday in January. Check our website for more information and to reserve a spot today. Each young artist will have the opportunity to create a piece that they can enter into the Young Artist Showcase. We will provide the supplies and the experience of a local artist to guide these budding artists.

March brings us to our 25th annual Photo Showcase, brought to you by the continued and generous patronage of Dr. and Mrs. Kimberlin. Our 25th year will open on March 5th and to celebrate we will have some special displays included in the showcase. One very special display will include photos taken around the world by Paris native Cherry Jones. These photos will be up for auction at the end of the showcase. Check back to our website for details, coming soon. 

We finish our series with the 32nd annual Artist Showcase, opening April 2. This beautiful showcase of our immensely talented artist community is a well loved tradition in Henry County. 

Make sure to come to Lee Academy of the Arts during these showcases to see more of what makes our community so great!

Christmas.... already?

Well, Halloween is over and that means Christmas is upon us! I find myself torn this time of year. My first response to walking into a store on November first and finding Christmas at every turn is to be annoyed. It's too early! What about Thanksgiving!? (Thanksgiving is simply my favorite. You eat until you can't move, you watch football, you have another dessert and some coffee, then you go shopping. What more could a girl ask for.) On the other hand, I love Christmas too. (I get a little giddy when I'm in a store and see pretty wrapping paper and shiny decorations.) Plus, as a person in arts I know that you have to start prepping for the holidays waaay before they actually get here! Who wants to see a Nutcracker that has only been rehearsed for a week? Not me!

So, while I love the idea of waiting, I can't. That means it is time to talk about all the great things the Arts Council has going this holiday season. Because we want you to join us!

First, we kick off the holiday season with another Trivia Night at Perrylodgic on November 22. Get your family and friends together and join us for this fun night to start off your long Thanksgiving weekend with a bang!

After Thanksgiving, when you are regretting the 4 million calories you ingested, we have the perfect solution. Come out to the Fairgrounds on Saturday, November 26 for the Youth for the Arts Dance 'til you Drop. This friendly competition will award a prize to the dancer who can keep dancing the longest. We don't care if your moves are good, we just want to see you move! Tickets are only $5, so bring the whole family and work off that pie you ate too much of.

On December 3, the Arts Council is working with the Lee Academy for the Arts once again to bring you a Christmas Bazaar. This is the perfect place to find a gift for that special someone on your list who is hard to shop for. We will have cookie decorating for the little ones, and performances throughout the day, including excerpts from the Nutcracker performed by the dancers from Dancing Generation Studio. 

Finally, on December 4, the Arts Council is proud to present the 49th Annual Community Christmas Concert. This holiday tradition is the perfect way to kick off December. Join us for traditional carols and beautiful Christmas music and you are sure to have a wonderful afternoon.

Details about all of these events can be found on our website. I hope to see you all there!

ArtyFacts for October 2016

Artyfacts October 2016

By Amy Jones

Executive Director

Paris Henry County Arts Council


The holidays are creeping up on us and the Paris Henry County Arts Council has some wonderful events planned to get you in the spirit!

If you missed our first Trivia Night at Perrylodgic Brewing Company you missed a fantastic evening, but don’t despair because we have another one coming on November 22! There is no pre-registration for this event and we ran out of space in October, so make sure you get to Perrylodgic early and claim your spot. We will have sandwiches and snacks starting at 5:30 and Perrylodgic will be serving up their brews. Trivia will commence at 6:30. Head over to our Facebook page or our website for more information. What a fun way to kick off the long Thanksgiving weekend! (We won’t serve turkey, we promise.)

After you eat your way through Thanksgiving the Youth for the Arts has a great event to work off all that pie! YFTA is sponsoring a dance competition on Saturday, November 26th. Yes, it is a competition, but you don’t need any skill to win this one, just stamina! The last person dancing will be the champion of the Dance ‘til you Drop. Admission is only $5 per person, so come dance, watch the dancers, and get yourself off the couch for this fun filled evening.

Of course, we know you are all looking forward to our 49th Annual Community Christmas Concert. This year’s concert will begin rehearsal on Thursday, November 3 at 7:00 in the choir room at First Baptist Church. If you are interested in joining the choir please see the website or contact the Arts Council for rehearsal information. This year’s concert will take place on Sunday, December 4 at 3:00 in the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church. Mark your calendars now for this seasonal favorite.

We are again partnering with the Lee Academy of the Arts on the annual Christmas Bazaar on Saturday, December 3 at the Lee Academy. We will have goodie for your eyes and goodies for you tummy. There will be an art project where children can create a special ornament for your Christmas tree. Lee will be filled with artists selling their own unique creations so that you can be a gift giving hero!

Speaking of gift giving, why not give the gift of Broadway? On May 27 the Arts Council will be taking a chartered bus to Nashville to see the Beautiful, the Carole King Musical. Beautiful – The Carole King Musical tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation. The November 14 deadline to reserve your spot is coming up quickly! What a wonderful gift to give your loved ones. We will take care of the tickets, the driving, and you get to sit back and experience this beautiful story. It’s easy to make your reservation on our website at

For 48 years the Paris Henry County Arts Council has been hard at working promoting the arts in our community. I am very proud to have been chosen to lead this group as we continue beloved traditions, such as the Community Christmas Concert, Artist Showcases, and the 5th Grade Trip. I am also very excited to add new and engaging events to our season.  

It is an exciting time to be part of the Paris Henry County Arts Council. It is our mission to promote, encourage, and stimulate the practice and appreciation of the arts in Paris and Henry County. We believe that the arts are a vital to a strong community, arts bring us together and speak of our common experience as members of the human race.  The work we do isn’t without expense and these programs are only made possible through the generous donations of the people of Henry County. As we continue our annual membership drive, we hope that you will want to take part in our work. Any gift, no matter the size, is welcome. 

Music and the Arts at Henry County High School

by Taryn Jones

Art education is a topic that many people are not adequately informed about. They do not know how important and beneficial the arts are for students.  Many areas have been cutting funding to the arts in public schools, taking away from students the opportunity to explore the world beyond what they already know. I was recently given the opportunity to discuss this topic with a man who has been incredibly influential upon my, and many other students’, view of the arts. Blair Chadwick has been the Henry County High school choral director for 7 years, but has been a huge supporter of art education for much longer.

                “Art education provides a practical, meaningful application of academic subjects,” he explains. He goes on to note the different academics you may find in the teaching of fine arts. For example, there is extensive use of mathematics when reading music, while theatre helps students form a worldview by exploring different cultures through speech and text. This is not, however, the only reason Chadwick thinks that art education is so important.

“All teachers want their students to think, interact well with others, and give back to their community. Every form of art accomplishes at least these three,” he told me. For this reason, and many others, he believes that some form of art should be required of every student attending public schools. He went on to tell me that, in order to get kids that would normally not involve themselves in the arts to consider it, state and federal education advisors must put more emphasis on employing the arts. This will directly translate to the funding and curriculum for arts in local schools.

One of the more important things in art education is the teachers that are teaching each art. Our school system has been gifted with many great teachers over the years that care about their subject and genuinely “care about seeing students graduate knowing more about their art subject then they did when the teacher was the student’s age.” With teachers like Mr. Chandler, Mr. Humphreys, and Mrs. Todd guiding our students in the direction of art, we are bound to succeed. He told me that his favorite part of teaching is when a student is struggling to understand something and then the understanding finally happens. “Seeing a student’s confidence grow and realizing their brain really is an instrument that can grow stronger keeps me teaching.”

The interview concluded with Chadwick telling me that he believes our school has gone above and beyond in accepting and stressing fine arts curriculum. “I guess the next question is can our school system do more?”

Who's up for a Road Trip!?

Would you like to see high quality shows without having to drive for hours? 

Did you know that the Paris Henry County Arts Council arranges trips to see Broadway touring productions at TPAC every year?

We have a block of seats and a chartered bus, so you and your friends can sit back and relax, see wonderful productions, and leave the driving to us! This year we are planning two trips to TPAC and the first deadline is coming up quickly! 

The first trip will be to see the perennial favorite The Sound of Music. The show will be February 18, but the ticket deadline is NEXT MONDAY, October 24. If you would like to join this trip, you need to make reservations today! 

Our second trip is to see Beautiful - The Carole King Musical. This show tell the inspiring true story of  King's remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation. The trip is schedule for May 27, 2017, but tickets should be purchased by November 14.

It's easy to reserve your spot right on our website. Simply find the show of your choice and click on the button to reserve. Seats are filled on a first come, first serve basis, so get your payment in quickly for the best seats we have to offer. We will meet at the First United Methodist Church lot at 10 am the day of the show, take an unhurried drive into Nashville, see a great show and then stop for dinner together!

Tickets for our road trip to TPAC make excellent Christmas gifts for your loved ones. Shop now, and have a fun filled day with them later!

An Interview with Meridith Roberson

by Delia McDevitt


Meridith Roberson on Her Experience at the Open Jar Institute

First, what is the Open Jar Institute?

The Open Jar Institute is an actor’s training workshop in New York City. It includes high school and college sessions held every summer. Students from all over the United States, London, and Canada audition for spots at this vigorous camp. There are three total sessions, and 60 students are chosen for each session. They also offer a Residency Program for older students. The summer sessions offer a week of intense acting, dancing, and vocal classes. These classes are taught by some of Broadway’s finest performers. In addition, every night the students have the opportunity to attend a Broadway production.

How did the audition process run? Was it nerve­wracking?

The auditions were held at Bethel. The process consisted of learning a dance combination from a broadway show and singing a 32­bar song of your choice. It was extremely nerve­wracking because there were only two other high school students that auditioned. The vast majority of people trying out were at the collegiate level.

How many students were accepted from this area?

Four or five I believe. I was the only high schooler accepted of the 3 who auditioned at Bethel. The other few were in college.

What would a regular day at Open Jar consist of?

I would wake up at 8:45 a.m. and would have to be at the studio down the block for breakfast by 9:45 a.m. All the participants were split up into various color groups based on their age. These color groups were the people that you would rotate to classes with throughout the day. After breakfast, my group would either go to an hour and a half of dance class, acting class, or vocal class. After that we would switch to a different class, and then we would meet back up for lunch. Following lunch, would have our final class of the day. When all the classes were through, we would have a little time to get ready for dinner. I ended my day by seeing a Broadway show. The next day, the routine was repeated. At the end of the week, we left having seen Waitress, The Color Purple, SomethingRotten, and Shuffle Along. I learned so much and had best time of my life.

It sounds like truly spectacular experience. We’re so happy you could represent Paris on your Big Apple journey.

I have one final question. Was New York as awe­inspiring as it’s made out to be?

Mostly. The only thing I didn’t expect or particularly enjoy was the smell and all the trash. I also wouldn’t recommend the city to anyone who is claustrophobic.

Definitely. Thank you Meridith! It was so nice to talk with you. Paris looks forward to hearing about all of your future endeavors. We hope to see your name in lights.

Meridith at the top of the World Trade Center during her week in NYC. 

Meridith at the top of the World Trade Center during her week in NYC. 

Welcome to our new Interns!

The Paris Henry County Arts Council is excited to introduce you to our new interns. We are very excited to have Delia McDevitt and Taryn Jones helping us this year. Be on the lookout for their work here on our website and with the Youth for the Arts student advisory board. 

Delia McDevitt is a sophomore at HCHS who loves to sing, act, and make good grades. In her spare time she enjoys doing henna at local art fairs and markets, and competing for FBLA, HOSA, and Speech Team. She is also a member of the  PHC Arts Y  outh for the A  rts student advisory board.

Delia McDevitt is a sophomore at HCHS who loves to sing, act, and make good grades. In her spare time she enjoys doing henna at local art fairs and markets, and competing for FBLA, HOSA, and Speech Team. She is also a member of the PHC Arts Youth for the Arts student advisory board.

Taryn Jones is a junior at HCHS. She spends her time singing, doing ballet, and attending church events. She is in Bella Voce, a women's ensemble at school, as well as an active member of HOSA, FUMC Youth Council, PHC Arts Youth for the Arts student advisory member, and the HCHS Student Health Advisory Council.

Taryn Jones is a junior at HCHS. She spends her time singing, doing ballet, and attending church events. She is in Bella Voce, a women's ensemble at school, as well as an active member of HOSA, FUMC Youth Council, PHC Arts Youth for the Arts student advisory member, and the HCHS Student Health Advisory Council.

ArtyFacts for September 2016

On this last day of September, I am excited about the arrival of true fall. I recently came across a lovely quote from one of my childhood favorites, Anne of Green Gables, which says “I’m so glad to live in a world where there are Octobers.” This pretty much sums it up for me! In addition to the beautiful weather and the leaves falling, I’m excited about the events the Arts Council has in October, and beyond!

This October we have an exciting new event to offer the people of our community. We are hosting our first Trivia Night at Perrylodgic Brewing Company on Tuesday, October 18. We are excited to be working with the proprietors to host an evening of fun and friendly competition. We will have ribeye sandwiches and other refreshments available for purchase beginning at 6:00. Admission is only $5 for individuals or $25 for a 6 member team. We are not selling tickets in advance and we have had quite a bit of interest, so plan to come out early to eat with us and get your spot!

Of course, we kicked off the season last weekend with Arts ‘Round the Square. We had an unseasonably warm day this year to enjoy the art, the music, and the food. I hope you were all able to make it out and enjoy the festivities. The Paris Henry County Arts Council is happy to help kick off fall every year with this fun filled day. A big shout-out to our sponsors for this event, Southside Café, Joe Mahan Ford, Boutique MariMac, and Commercial Bank. We also want to thank our season sponsor, Foundation Bank.

There are going to be many more fun events brought to you by the Arts Council this year, so keep an eye on our website and facebook page for information. The Youth for the Arts board will be hosting a Dance ‘til You Drop fundraiser in November which promises to be fun for ALL ages and skill levels! Then we will get into the holiday spirit with our 49th annual Community Christmas Concert, under the direction of Peggy Williams. Artist and Photographer, don’t forget to start getting your work ready for our showcases in the spring. We have some exciting things happening this year, and you will want to be a part of it!


Arts 'Round the Square

This past Saturday was our annual Arts 'Round the Square event, and if you missed it you certainly missed out! It was an unseasonably warm and beautiful day on the court square with food, music, and wonderful artists from around the region.

One of the things that makes this event special is that in addition to being a wonderful place to interact with artists and shop their unique wares, it is also a juried show for the artist. The winners of the 2016 Arts 'Round the Square artist competition are as follows: 

This event would not be possible without the support of many of our local businesses. We would certainly be remiss if we didn't mention them! Huge thanks to the Downtown Paris Association for allowing our event to be a major part of the Eye Full of Paris Weekend.  

Thanks to our sponsors, Foundation Bank, Joe Mahan Ford, Southside Cafe, Boutique MariMac, and Commercial Bank.  

Thanks to other local businesses who donated items, Regions Bank, Lakeway IGA, Moody Realty, Clifty Farms Ham, Sally Lane, GioBellas, Lura Lee's, artist Robyn Neubauer, Maggie's, and Paula Kelley's.

We are fortunate to live in a community with so much support for the arts!

Our 49th Season is Exciting!

In case you missed us at the fair last week, our new brochures are printed with all the exciting information about the next year with the Paris Henry County Arts Council. Join us this coming Saturday to kick off the season with our annual Arts 'Round the Square. There will be artists, food, and music all day on beautiful and historic court square. 

Check out our brochure below for information on the many things we will be offering the community in the coming months. There is something for everyone!

Huge shout out to Board Member Kaley Ballou for her fantastic work creating a beautiful brochure for our 49th year. 

Huge shout out to Board Member Kaley Ballou for her fantastic work creating a beautiful brochure for our 49th year. 

ArtyFacts for January

Are you looking for love and laughter in Paris with someone special this Valentine’s Day? Then plan to attend the Paris Henry County Arts Council’s 2nd Annual Love & Laughter event at the Paris Convention Center on Saturday, February 13! What better way to celebrate than dinner and a show with your loved one?

The evening begins with a social time with the Paris Winery, followed by a meal catered by Show Thyme Catering with dinner music provided by the Shepherd Family, then the evening is finished with a family friendly comedy show by David Ferrell.

For over 20 years, comedian and motivational speaker David Ferrell has shown audiences that comedy can be clean and funny! He is a multi-year nominee for Comedian of the Year by The Inspirational Country Music Awards and has been named one of the top “Hot Acts in America” by Event Solutions Magazine. David can be heard on Sirius XM radio’s “Laugh USA.” In addition to his uproarious tales about everyday life, David delights audiences with hilarious impressions of famous celebrities, cartoon characters, farm animals and many more!

Tickets can be purchased at the downtown branches of Commercial Bank and Security Bank, Foundation Bank on East Wood, and at Boutique MariMac, My Favorite Things, and The Iron Place. Tickets can also be purchased through the Arts Council at or through any board member. Dinner and show tickets are $75 per couple or $40 per person.

The Arts Council would like to thank our Silver Sponsors, Commercial Bank, Foundation Bank, and Security Bank and our Bronze Sponsors, Boutique MariMac, Holley Credit Union, and My Favorite Things.

For all photographers out there, our 24th Annual Photo Showcase is coming to the Lee Academy for the Arts soon and we need your photos! This year’s showcase will be on display from March 6th to April 1st.

Each photographer may enter up to three framed or gallery wrapped photographs, which must include a hanging wire. Minimum overall size is 8” X 10”. Maximum overall size is 24” X 24”.  No previous winning photos please. Once entry forms are submitted no changes or substitutes will be permitted. For more information please see rule and entry forms, available at our office or at

Entry forms must be received in the Paris-Henry County Arts Council Office by: 3:00 pm on Friday, February 26th, 2015.

We still have a few seats available for our upcoming TPAC Broadway event. Join us on March 19 as we journey to Nashville to see the epic Phantom of the Opera. The Arts Council is proud to offer residents of Henry County this opportunity to take a comfortable coach to Nashville for a matinee performance of a great Broadway show. We only have a few spots left, so call a friend and reserve your seat today!