CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Before the National Council on the Arts’ meeting Friday in Charleston, council members and arts advocates were welcomed to the Capital City with a showcase of West Virginia performing arts groups.

The council, which advises the National Endowment for the Arts chairman on policy and funding, will meet Friday at the state Culture Center, the first time the council has met outside of Washington, D.C., in 27 years.

The showcase at the Culture Center included performances by musicians of Mountain Stage, pianist Barbara Nissman and Greenbrier Valley Theater.

Randall Reid-Smith, the curator of the state Department of Arts, Culture and History, said it is quite the honor to have the council hold their meeting in West Virginia.

“They are very excited about what is going on in West Virginia,” he said. “They think our governor is a rock star for the arts because he just created a department of the arts for the state and he just gave us a 20 percent increase, with the Legislature, for our state funding for our arts grants, for historic preservation development grants, and for art programs for education that we do through culture and history.”

The council members stopped at the Huntington Museum of Art, the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center in Huntington and the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences before the showcase.

Pam Breaux, the president and CEO of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, said she was impressed by the Clay Center’s popularity.

“The first thing that was really striking was walking into the Clay Center on a weekday late in the afternoon and it was absolutely animated with people. It was filled,” she said. “People of all ages having a really great time.”

Narric Rome, the vice president of government affairs and arts education at Americans for the Arts, said the council’s visit shows how important arts programs and the National Endowment of the Arts’ relevant support are for communities.

“A lot of people think that a federal agency keeps the money in Washington,” he said. “The whole point of this visit here was to demonstrate how federal support with the state support as a partner goes throughout this state and that’s what they’ll be talking about tomorrow at this council meeting.”

Friday’s meeting will include remarks from lawmakers, updates from the council and a spotlight on youth organizations in the state.

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