Letters for June 18, 2008

As the past president of Destination Marketing Association of North Carolina, and someone who has known Bob McCoy for over 25 years, it is disheartening to see this happen to one of the most creative and dedicated tourism professionals in our state [“Kaplan should go, McCoy should stay”; June 11, by Jim Longworth]. Not only are the large destinations in North Carolina watching what is happening in Winston-Salem, but all small communities as well like Smithfield/Johnston County. Tourism professionals across the state know that we are accountable to many bosses in the community, our own board members, our stakeholders in the visitor industry, elected officials and most of all, the visitor, who really pays for the services we provide. When the day is done, bureaus have tax reports, ROI reports, booking reports, visitor research and the list goes on to verify our existence. We are probably the most cutinized public agencies in the state. I wonder if other government agencies could produce the numbers that CVBs do and all for funds that local citizens do not pay. What I find ironic about this raid by the Arts Council for tourism funds is that it is happening in a community known as the City of the Arts, which the bureau has successfully branded over the years. Bob and his staff have done a tremendous job selling their destination as an arts community. What else does the arts community want? And can they do it better than the CVB and will they be accountable for how they spend tax dollars? All questions I doubt we would get answers to. I would have to join Dana Clark and many others in saying that the facts in evidence show that the Winston-Salem CVB is operating as a leader in our state and should be allowed to continue the fine work they do for the community. Donna Bailey-Taylor Fredericksburg, Va. Bailey-Taylor is executive director of the Johnston County Visitors Bureau. When I arrived in North Carolina three years ago to take the position of executive director for the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau, I immediately learned of the great things being done by Bob McCoy in Winston. I set out to visit and learn. He was gracious, generous with information and very helpful. I have copied many of his ideas and still send staff down to meet him. Bob is a leader, honest, kind and smart. I am sorry for this scrutiny. Our industry isn’t always easy to understand and the totality of our contribution isn’t always clear, but when meeting planners, hotels, events and visitors love you, spend money with you and bring their business back – that is a pretty clear message that something is working. Best wishes to Bob and team during this tough time of public scrutiny. They deserve their jobs and a raise for being humiliated. Laurie Paolicelli Chapel Hill Tourism ranks among North Carolina’s top five industries. And North Carolina is one of the most visited states in the nation – all because of efforts by professional tourism marketeers like Bob McCoy and his staff. Thank you for writing your article. Greta Lint Asheboro Lint is a tourism consultant, writer and promoter. Finally! This is what should have been said all along!! Kudos to Jim Longworth for having the fortitude to expose this for what it really is. K Edwards North Carolina Jim, You hit the nail on the head with this article. You are to be commended. Gerald N. Dinkins Winston-Salem Finally, someone calling Mr. Kaplan on his obvious intent to dismantle a successful organization. The question is, will anyone stop him or will he be successful and far more dangerous in the future with his newfound power? Frightening. Mooney Davis Greensboro Well said and thank goodness someone has finally been able to put all of the little pieces of this story together to make sense of it. Bob McCoy and his staff do an exceptional job and allowing Ted Kaplan to run his smear campaign and be successful might as well be suicide for this community. J. Wiles Winston-Salem According to Jim I would like to voice my sincere thanks to Jim Dowell who is eternally a friend to the arts community in Greensboro [“Jim Dowell returns from a spring interlude with lots of art”; June 11, 2008; by Jim Dowell]. Jim wants to bring his level of awareness to everyone, and his recurring article in YES! Weekly is doing just that. Jim tells about what’s going on with the local art scene, and in his most recent article he tells it like it really is. Thank you for saying the words that so many artists are thinking, but afraid to say. Firstly, Emmett Williams is an amazing artist, and his work will always impress the viewer. Emmett is a thinker and a doer, and one who is above the games that people play. He’s a gentleman and a deeply expressive soul. Find him. Find his work. You’ll find the vibration of your very own current culture, time and place. Secondly, Jim hit the nail on the head. It is difficult to make a living as an artist regardless of where you live in this world. Creativity must be utilized throughout every aspect of your life, not only on your canvas, or with your hammer and anvil, or when piecing together small fragments of colored glass. An artist must always push their own limitations and abilities to grow and increase their talents until the day they die. This is endless work, and self discipline is key in succeeding. This is only 50 percent of an artist’s life… doing the art part. The other 50 percent goes towards everything else that makes any business a business. An artist will find themselves wearing more professional hats than they ever thought they would. Promotions, accounting, archiving, sales, finishing, curator, just to begin name a few daily activities. While galleries can offer a place for art to go to and sell from, there are additional locations that make art even more accessible to even more people. Restaurants, coffee shops, wine bars, bookstores, festivals, and so many other venus are out there, wanting and waiting to be filled with art. Even an artist having work at multiple galleries is truly helpful. The issue of exclusivity of an artist to a single gallery has the potential to be damaging to an artist’s livelihood and career. When an artist depends upon a single gallery as the lone source for their income, and for the support of their own artistic style, she’s putting all her eggs into one basket. In this day and age, when everyone in the American workforce can be proven dispensable at the drop of a hat, an artist might be committing career suicide if they’re depending entirely upon a single entity to come through for them for the rest of their lives. On top of that, when you think about how many artists and their work are generally found at one of these single galleries, and then think about the competition that each of those artists is to each other under that one roof, being promoted by that one entity, you’re really looking at just a sliver of representation and promotion being put out there for that individual artist. So, to pay the bills, to put food in the mouths of our families, to pay the government their share, to fork over a commission fee, to keep healthy, fed and watered, artists use their creativity to live. We find a way, because we’re driven and because no one can do it for us. So if you find yourself out and about, and find yourself staring off into the distance over your coffee or dinner at a piece of art across the room, enjoy it. It is there for you. An artist had to think outside the box and outside of being boxed in to put it there. Charlotte Ström