An Appalachian Summer Festival By Keith Martin
Music! Dance!T heatr RIOULT Dance NY with live music by Broyhill Chamber Ensemble July 23. “Views of a Fleeting World” Photo by Basil Childers.
enise Ringler and the members of her team are puzzle masters extraordinaire with skills that would put NPR’s Will Shortz, crossword editor for The New York Times, to shame. As Director of Arts and Cultural Programs at Appalachian State University, she is the primary facilitator behind artist selection and program creation for An Appalachian Summer Festival (AASF). Now in its 32nd season, AASF is the university’s annual gift to our region, offering a balanced program of music, dance, theatre, visual arts and film. Each year, Ringler’s staff must piece together a schedule resembling a Sudoku square that must add up across, up and down, and diagonally in terms of artist availability, budget, talent fees, programming, scheduling, production costs and sponsorships. When they finish, the slate resembles a perfectly assembled Rubik’s Cube that balances the three key components of AASF’s vision: artistic excellence, innovation and engagement. The key to AASF’s long history of programmatic success is presenting accomplished and respected performing and visual artists who are regionally, nationally and internationally recognized while providing op-
16 — Spring 2016 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE
portunities for emerging artists. Ringler and her staff are assisted by a select group of arts professionals, patrons, and audience members known collectively as the Appalachian Summer Festival Advisory Board. This body “provides critical leadership for AASF by offering overall guidance, fundraising assistance, programming ideas and long-term direction for the festival.” Their efforts for 2016 have already been recognized; as this edition of CML was going to print, AASF had just been notified of its designation, once again, as one of the “top 20 events in the southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society. A quiet, unassuming individual, Ringer’s leadership style most closely resembles that of The Wizard of Oz in that she would prefer that no attention be paid to the person behind the curtain. But most of us know better. “It all starts with our core mission statement,” says Ringler. Here it is: An Appalachian Summer Festival is a multidisciplinary arts festival presenting and producing programs in music, theatre, dance, film and visual arts. The festival forges a unique national identity through artistic excellence, innovative programming, commissioning new works, educational opportuni-
ties, and by bringing the most accomplished and respected creative and performing artists from around the world to the Appalachian State University community. Founded on the principle of promoting young American artists, the festival supports the overall university mission, enhances the cultural life of the Appalachian community through affordable access to its programs, serves as an important gateway onto the campus, and promotes the economic development of our region. “The festival menu will again offer something for almost every artistic taste and preference,” said Ringler. “We’re thrilled to be presenting a diverse array of classical music, including an interdisciplinary dance and music program featuring the exquisite artistry of Rioult Dance NY and the Broyhill Chamber Ensemble; an expanded global film series (including international films for young audiences); and the 30th anniversary season of the Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Competition, long celebrated for showcasing work by the nation’s finest contemporary sculptors. Two theatre productions will be part of the festival menu, featuring the worldrenowned Reduced Shakespeare Company performing “William Shakespeare’s LongLost First Play,” and the prodigiously tal-
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