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Hoover Arts Alliance: Connecting community with art 1
Addison Woodlard (center) from Deer Valley Elementary celebrates her win at the Ross Bridge Art Event with her mother (left) and Hoover Arts Alliance member Pat Bendall.
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Photos courtesy of Linda Chastain.
Hoover Arts Alliance: Connecting community with art 2
or Pat Bendall, Councilman John Lyda, HAA member Carolyn Kolar, HAA co-founder Linda Chastain and Councilman Gene Smith attend the 50th anniversary celebration of the Bluff Park Art Association.
From the Bluff Park Art Association to the Hoover High School jazz band, Hoover is filled with talented amateur and professional artists.
The Hoover Arts Alliance, founded by Linda Chastain and Barbara Lyons in 2007, teams up with these artists to provide financial assistance and opportunities to display and promote their work. Chastain and Lyons, both cancer survivors, founded the Alliance to give back to their city and get rid of the competition between Hoover artists.
“There were so many art groups in Hoover, but nobody was communicating,” said Chastain, who now works as the foundation’s treasurer.
The Alliance now has over 200 members, both artists and supporters of the arts, who work to fund arts events throughout the year and inspire artists to show off their talents. Members of the Alliance include representatives from the Hoover Shelby Arts Association, the National League of American Pen Women, Aldridge Gardens and the Bluff Park Art Association.
“Our philosophy has been to encourage the arts and artists at all levels, from elementary school on, and to promote the arts in Hoover,” Chastain said.
Community involvement is a crucial part of the Alliance’s mission. Members can be seen manning a booth at the Bluff Park Art Show and providing art supplies for children’s activities. At the Ross Bridge Art & Music on the Green festival, the Alliance hosts an art competition for children from area elementary schools, with cash prizes and certificates for the winners. The Alliance also provides small cash prizes for a few other art competitions, and funded a recent trip to Chicago for the Hoover High School Jazz Band. Additionally, its members were instrumental in creating a new art gallery at the Hoover Municipal Center in 2013.
“If there’s a need and we see it, we try and meet it,” Chastain said. “It is more than just, ‘OK, here’s a check.’ We work with them on stuff.”
Chastain, however, is proudest of the scholarships that the Alliance provides. Each year, one graduating senior from Hoover High School and one from Spain Park High School receive a $1,000 scholarship to pursue an arts education in college. Signature Homes funds the scholarships, which are based on talent rather than need.
This year, a third scholarship has been added in honor of Lyons, Chastain’s co-founder, who died on Feb. 16 after a short illness. The Alliance collected donations in her memory, and Chastain said more than $1,000 was donated by the end of February. This new scholarship will be available to graduating seniors from either high school.
“People care about the arts. You’d be surprised at the people who very quietly go about this city and you never know who they are, but when something comes up, you see the check,” Chastain said.
The major challenge for the Alliance, however, is the absence of space for performances and art shows. Hoover currently lacks a convention center or other significant indoor space for displaying its artists’ talent. The Hoover Shelby Art Association and members of high school bands have approached Chastain about the need for performance space, and events like the yearly Southern Voices festival have outgrown their locations.
“It is very difficult for anybody in Hoover – not just artists – to find a meeting space for a small group. They’re just not there,” Chastain said. “A city the size of Hoover with the education of Hoover people needs to have some place.”
Chastain envisions a space not only for local artists to show their work, but also for the Alabama Symphony and the Alabama Theatre Company to bring performances for residents who cannot go to downtown Birmingham. She also believes a performance center would be ideal for hosting small conventions or high school graduation ceremonies.
Even without a convention center, the Alliance will continue finding other ways to bring attention to Hoover artists. In May, the Alliance will formally recognize its 2014 scholarship recipients, and on June 21 and 22 it will be a sponsor for Art in the Gardens, an annual event at Aldridge Gardens. Chastain said the Alliance is also planning a fall art show for local art teachers and a spring show for high school students’ work.
“We just want to stay involved in the arts in Hoover, and keep promoting the arts and the artists and encourage the young artists. That’s the biggest thing,” Chastain said. “Anything we can do to promote the arts and give people space to hang their work and make them feel that what they’re doing is worthwhile.”