The Etowah Arts Commission was placed under new leadership in 2019 and the new Executive Director is currently making progress to continue and improve the Arts Commission despite the challenges of the pandemic that began in 2020.
Etowah Arts Commission Executive Director Heather Vanskiver grew up in a small town in Brooksville, Florida.
“I have been in Etowah since 2010,” Vanskiver said. “I bought a house with my husband in 2010 and we moved in in 2011. We had to tear it down to the bone and it was my best project.
One of the reasons she and her husband chose this area to live is because they wanted to experience seasons, which they didn’t really do when they lived in Florida.
“We wanted a small town for our children to grow up with community ties,” she noted as a second reason. “My husband is from upstate New York so it’s a good compromise for both of us and I love the area.”
Vanskiver said her interest in art began when she was a young child.
“I had access to wonderful relatives and friends who were writers, authors, potters, gardeners, and where I lived was very rural, so it was really a hands-on learning,” she said. . “We were encouraged to play outside and use our imaginations and make whatever we needed and we had great resources for that, so it was a very creative childhood.”
The path to his current career began with Vanskiver searching for a group of writers in Etowah.
“I couldn’t find one, so I went to the community center to find out how to make one and found out there was already one, but no one knew, so I went to talk to them and I I created a Facebook page and the group grew a bit, ”she recalls. “Then I was asked to take the group back and keep it going and from there it just worked with different routes to the schools or the group of writers. Someone mentioned to me that the arts commission needed a new director and I thought that could be a really good way to strengthen our bond with the community here for our children. So that’s what got me there and from there I found so many local artists and tried to let them know about their work.
One of the ways Vanskiver tries to recognize artists is through gallery exhibitions.
She noted that the arts commission will partner and work with anyone for community participation.
“If we have the opportunity to work with the Gem Players on a project, we will or if, for example, a high school is having an art exhibition, we can provide a real gallery for students to come and see their. work on the wall. You’ll have people buying it from the kids and the funds going back to school, so it’s a great experience for them, ”she said. “We really embrace working with the community and anyone who needs our resources that we can provide.”
When she took over as Executive Director in 2019, she successfully helped host the Cousin Jake Bluegrass Festival before the full effects of the pandemic kicked in, causing massive closures and encouraging social distancing.
“We were the last art commission to withdraw our grant that year and since then we’ve done what we can to work with grants and get things done under the new structure guidelines and things like that. She said. “What I would like to have is more community involvement. We have arts and crafts time for kids on Sundays and we wish we could use it to have more kids and adults interested in what is here, the resources that are there for them, for them. arts but overall I love this job and plan to be in Etowah. This is where I want to be and where I invest.
Vanskiver’s hobbies include “juggling projects”, writing, gardening, papermaking, candle making, soap making, woodcarving and more that involve hands-on projects and creativity.
Her immediate family consists of her husband, Stuart Vanskiver, who works as a nurse, and their two children, Dean and Pippa Vanskiver.
“I would like to invite more people to come and visit our gallery and if you have something that you like to create and want to share with the community, I would like you to contact me,” Vanskiver said.
Vanskiver can be contacted by calling the Etowah Arts Commission at 423-263-7608.