The program is co-sponsored by the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, the Alamance County Arts Council, the Durham Arts Council, the Orange County Arts Commission and the United Arts Council of Raleigh & Wake County.
Representatives from these organizations, along with one script-savvy community member, selected Finley as the Piedmont Laureate.
“He reaches all audiences,” said Belva Parker, arts program coordinator for the City of Raleigh Arts Commission and a member of the selection committee.
“He has been an education director, he has done historical plays, he has gotten around a lot. It is pretty amazing what he has done.”
Finley first studied theater at the University of Utah before earning an M.F.A. in dramatic writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
His “Nature of the Nautilus” won the 2002 Jean Kennedy Smith Award for a play dealing with themes of disability. Since then, Finley has moved to Raleigh and developed more than 70 stories influenced by the area’s history.
Currently, Finley is the director of education for Raleigh’s Burning Coal Theatre Company.
“Ian is very passionate about theater, and he is extremely articulate, so that passion comes through very clearly,” said Martha Shannon, director of the Orange County Arts Commission.
“He is a very wonderful teacher.”
As Piedmont Laureate, Finley said his biggest goal is to inspire passion about scriptwriting.
“My central belief about teaching is that if someone is impassioned about a subject, then they will be able to do more with that than someone who has all the training but isn’t deeply invested in their subject,” he said.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to give people some tools with which plays are created. But it’s more important to engender an excitement about what a play can be.”