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Let’s Not Forget the Arts!

By Katherine Hirsh
Briar Chapel Resident, Chatham County Arts Council Dance Instructor

As promised in this space, we are talking about more than new homes and living green. Today we have a homeowner as a guest blogger.  Katherine Hirsh lives in Briar Chapel and teaches dance classes for the Chatham County Arts Council. Here she is in her own words . . .

A year ago, we were on our way home from visiting the shops in historic Pittsboro and were planning to stop by a friend’s home off 15-501.  We took a wrong turn and found ourselves driving along a newly paved windy road. Taking in the landscape, we thought we might have discovered a new state park!  Then we noticed creative art installations dispersed along the roadside amidst the trees and knew we were somewhere unique.  What could be at the end of this breathtaking drive with artwork along the way   Little did we know that we had discovered our future home, Briar Chapel by Newland Communities.

Our decision to move was not immediate.  We had so many factors to consider.  We were very familiar with Chatham County, many of our friends were already living nearby and my husband spent many weekends biking throughout the area finding the roads safe and scenic.  But what else was there for our family of four children aged from pre-school to teen   Was there a place for me, a former ballet dancer and arts manager

After all our research, we realized Briar Chapel indeed had it all!  Access to great schools and community sports teams; a multi-purpose fitness facility (gym, aerobics room, pools); a community clubhouse with indoor children’s area and outdoor playground; an eco-friendly development with green living specifications for all builders; 30 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails; and the entire development is surrounded by 900 acres of land to never be developed. Future plans for a new middle school, recreational sports fields, parks and retail close by was also appealing. However, I must admit, the critical element that sealed our fate to move was Briar Chapel’s commitment to the arts.

Quite often arts are forgotten, thought of as non-essential, a superfluous enhancement.  On the contrary, a solid well-rounded lifestyle must contain the arts in some manner and Briar Chapel clearly understood this truth and embraced the arts in its master plan.  One of the key partnerships is with Chatham Arts, the County’s independent not-for-profit arts council.

I became very excited when I learned more about Chatham Arts after perusing its website.  I was surprised to find such abundance of talent in this area, all serviced and promoted via ChathamArts.  I learned that ChathamArts hosts monthly receptions displaying artists’ creations in glass, pottery, sculpture, photography, painting and more…  in fact, the next reception will be held at Briar Chapel on Saturday, March 16th.

I also discovered that Chatham Arts awards grants to local artists and non-profit organizations who present programs for the community, such as “ClydeFest” works with schools to bring arts programming to all students; presents the monthly “100-Mile Sustainable Cinema Series”; collaborates with other arts organizations and councils to present national and internationally acclaimed artists; and most recently began offering an array of classes for all ages all year round.  The majority of these classes are being held at the Briar Chapel Clubhouse , and I am pleased to teach dance via ChathamArts!

When I reflect back to that day we took the wrong turn into Briar Chapel, I think to myself “how funny that something wrong can turn out to be so right” and about how fortunate we were to stumble upon this community that has changed our lifestyle in every good way - better schools, a safer neighborhood, a green lifestyle and a community promoting health, wellness and let’s not forget, THE ARTS!

Do you have a favorite local artist



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