The arts: a year in review

By Page H. Gifford

It has been a revolutionary year in the arts and 2022 will be a milestone that will have a future effect in Fluvanna County. Starting with Carysbrook Performing Arts Center, the Fluvanna County Arts Council officially opened the doors for a new season in September after showing their first film in July – a documentary filmed and produced by Horace Scruggs about the Emancipation and the Civil War. Over 200 people attended.

On Sept. 9, at Carysbrook Performing Arts Center, FCAC presented its first show of the 2022-23 season. About 79 people attended the reception and film sponsored by the Fluvanna County Arts Council and Virginia Humanities. The film, In Good Keeping in 2022, is part of an ongoing series celebrating the culture and traditions of native Virginians and those who have made Virginia their home.

“We are gratified by the community’s support as we returned to in-person events and are thrilled to see friends, neighbors, and newcomers experience the arts at Carysbrook,” said Sharon Harris, president of FCAC.

Producing films was part of the original vision of the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center proposal in 1993 but was never implemented until now. Harris, along with other council members, including Horace Scruggs, were supportive of the idea of bringing film to Carysbrook. Film equipment was purchased and installed with a grant and FCAC is looking forward to using it in creative and informative ways.

“Film has been a big draw this season,” Harris added.

FCAC also welcomed back an old favorite, Willow Branch, a local group and faithful performer throughout the years since Carysbrook’s beginning. They also welcomed back the Fluvanna Community Singers for its annual holiday concert post-COVID, the first in almost three years.

Empowered Players, Fluvanna’s youth theater group, performed for sell-out crowds for its shows of Rudolph Jr. Empowered Players partnered with FCAC to support and expand arts opportunities for area students while bringing family-friendly performances to the community.

Another partnership that has conformed to the original vision for Carysbrook, is the alliance between Fluvanna Art Association and FCAC. In November FCAC sponsored a one-day event, a Celebration of Art and Music, with Horace Scruggs and other local musicians playing cool, mellow jazz while onlookers viewed the works of local artists. Over 60 people attended, most of them new to the area. Many were impressed with the wide variety of talented artists in the area while enjoying the jazz music. It is the goal of both groups to bring area artists in to exhibit regularly.

Harris said,  “As we ring in 2023, plans are underway to showcase local musicians, expand the sharing of local history and culture through film, music, and community conversations, present the work of area artists, draw on the power of storytelling to promote mental health, and to bring one of Virginia’s most acclaimed and beloved musicians, Steve Bassett, to our stage.” She added that FCAC is committed to making  programs accessible and affordable. This season had a welcome back price of $5 per ticket for all events except those that were free.

To learn about upcoming events, be sure to follow them on Facebook  at, and Instagram, visit, and watch for ads in the Fluvanna Review.

Changes are coming for the Fluvanna Art Association as well. It would seem with the success of CPAC after the COVID shutdowns that residents are hungry for the arts in all forms. FAA had its first judged spring show since 2019. In November they partnered with FCAC for its first of many collaborations in the visual arts. The People’s Choice Awards Show returned with over 250 viewers voting for their favorites.

As we accelerate into 2023, FAA will be having more themed shows, looking at collective community projects, changing the layout of judged shows, and offering members a variety of workshops to get their creative minds working. To learn more about Fluvanna Art Association visit them on Facebook or at

It is a year of comebacks from COVID and change with The Arts of Fluvanna County formed with members of the Fluvanna Leadership Development Program and led by Diane Wilkin to bring back the tour of the artisans’ trail. It had been over 10 years since the last tour. They held it in October, with artists throughout the county opening their doors to welcome interested art enthusiasts and collectors to view their processes and learn more about them and their art. It was so successful they are planning one for 2023. For more information about the tour or to participate, visit

The year 2022 marked a moment when Fluvanna artists, performing and visual, stepped out of the shadows and became emboldened to break away from the status quo and bring their creations into a new age of art in the county.

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