The Orange County Arts Commission inducted two new advisory board members last month, UNC senior Matthew Keith and photographer Sean T. Bailey.
The Orange County Arts Commission is a countywide arts agency that helps support the nonprofit arts organizations and artists in Orange County through grants, promotions and support.
Keith was inducted to serve as the board’s UNC liaison, a role granted to a UNC senior annually. OCAC Director Katie Murray said the role was created three years ago in order for the OCAC board to have the perspective of a UNC student, as the campus is one of the main sources of artistic culture in the area.
Murray said the role allows for the board to know what is going on with the arts on UNC’s campus and also provides a voice for the University’s students.
"The position of the UNC student liaison was created to kind of bridge the gap between the two and make the community a lot more aware of what was going on at UNC," Keith said.
From screenplays to musicals, senior Morehead-Cain scholar Keith has found passion in storytelling through artistic mediums. After being immersed in the UNC arts culture for three years, Keith said he is excited to expand his view of art with his new position.
“It has opened my eyes to a lot of both the current art in the community and the potentials for new artists and new artwork,” Keith said.
After hearing about the role from a friend in his voice studio, Keith said he was excited to be exposed to a wider community of arts. He said he not only has he been able to help the board expand its perspective, but he has already grown from the experience so far.
Bailey is a photographer who has degrees in zoology and anthropology and a doctorate in genetics and molecular biology. With his background, he has used scientific angles to create his prints and photography.
Last spring, Bailey was given a grant by the OCAC for a project. He used the money for an exhibit that opened at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that focused on underrepresented individuals, specifically women of color. He said the work concentrated on sharing their stories of how they had experienced the sciences, as well as disparities within the biological sciences.
Now, as a member of the advisory board, Bailey said it has been interesting seeing the variety of ways that artists are adapting.
“To see a piece of art, like you have to be in front of it to feel it sometimes. So, just trying to figure these things out is challenging in this environment,” Bailey said. “But as places open back up, I think the funding is going to places that are being innovative.”
Murray said she was excited by each of the new additions to the advisory board.
“Our board needs to represent our community,” she said.
The advisory board continues to evolve alongside the community, through both its members and the way it supports the county. Artists everywhere are waiting for the world to return to normal.
“I’m just ready to be able to engage with people again in person, even if it's with masks,” Bailey said. “You can tell a lot with someone’s eyes.”
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