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Friday, September 18, 2020

Marshall’s Arts-R-Me Marches Forward

Local arts leaders and arts advocates are joining forces to enhance the county's vibrant arts scene.

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Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids, and graduated from Valley Heights High School in May of 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. After stops at KFRM and KCLY radio in Clay Center, he joined KNDY in 2002 as a board operator and play by play announcer. Derek is now responsible for the digital content of Dierking Communications, Inc. six radio stations. In 2005 Derek joined the staff of KCFX radio in Kansas City as a production coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, which airs on over 94 radio stations across 12 Midwest states and growing. In 2018 he became the Studio Coordinator at the Cumulus Kansas City broadcast center for Kansas City Chiefs Football.

“We are fortunate that our county has active arts organizations,” said Brad Ekiss, president of the Marshall County Arts Cooperative. “We’re all coming together to find ways to support one another.”

The group is calling itself Marshall’s Arts-R-Me. The name is used to identify the collective group.

“It’s not another arts organization,” Ekiss said. “It’s how we refer to ourselves when we come together to communicate about all of the arts events going on in the county. This is also another avenue for us to find volunteers to help all of our arts organizations.”

The group has held several meetings over the past four months. A topic that emerged was the need to effectively share information about all of the artistic offerings in the county. The group put together a holiday arts calendar for the month of December that listed all of the concerts, performances, and arts workshops that were happening in the county. The calendar was well received; people appreciated having all of the arts information in one place giving an overview of the wide variety of arts events.

The group plans to continue publishing a monthly calendar. Additionally, the group will publish a quarterly calendar so people can plan ahead for activities.

In addition to printing the calendar the group is looking for ways to share the information. The Marshall County Development Cooperation, a group who focuses on county-wide tourism, has agreed to list all of the arts events on their website.

“Since not all of our arts organizations have websites, this is very helpful,” Ekiss said.

Not only is the arts calendar a way to communicate with the public about all of the activities, it’s also a way for the different organizations to plan their activities. The combined calendar helps coordinate projects and avoids overlap.

“Each of our communities in Marshall County have shown a commitment to making their place a valuable and thriving home for the people who live there,” said Pat Breeding, president of the Marysville Area Community Theatre. “When one of us is successful in making the arts an important part of their community, we all benefit. There have already been many collaborations between us in the past and we are most excited about making that circle of friendships bigger.”

In addition to communicating about the arts, the group is looking to develop an arts army, a play on the group’s name, to assist the organizations. The arts army would be a group of volunteers who work behind the scenes. Ushering at events, hanging posters, baking food for receptions, and helping with clerical tasks are some of the tasks to be accomplished by volunteers.

Linda Swim, a member of Landmark Enterprises Incorporated, is eager to get the arts army started.

“The thing that excites me most about this new effort is that we will be able to quickly and more efficiently mobilize volunteers to help with the various arts efforts throughout the county,” she said. “Having a one-stop place to check on events at any given time and place will be a big bonus for all our arts consumers, local and visiting.”

People interested in being a member of the arts army may contact Swim at 785-562-2067 or marshallsartsrme@gmail.com.

The group’s next meeting will be in March at the Vermillion Library.

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