A regional approach to arts

Published 9:47 pm Monday, November 30, 2015

It would be hard to find someone more connected to and invested in the arts in Suffolk than Linda Bunch. The executive director of the Suffolk Art League, an artist herself, has made a 28-year career of advancing the arts in Suffolk.

Bunch recently received a well-deserved honor from the Cultural Alliance of Hampton Roads for her commitment to the arts in Suffolk and for the ripple effects that commitment has had on Hampton Roads at large.

Bunch’s Alli Award comes during a year in which she made an especially big contribution to Hampton Roads’ arts scene.

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The inaugural 7 Cities, 1 Book series of events — which focused this year on Ray Bradbury’s novel “Fahrenheit 451” — caused libraries and arts venues throughout Tidewater to come together with book club discussions, crafts workshops and a juried exhibition at the Suffolk Art Gallery. Next year’s event already is expected to be even bigger.

The 7 Cities event got its start because of a grant application Bunch had made to the National Endowment for the Arts program, The Big Read, which offers grants to communities to build programs including forums, book groups, poetry readings and the like that revolve around a single book.

Although the grant application was unsuccessful, Bunch’s work to build the coalition of Hampton Roads arts organizations to work together on the project gave the group a solid foundation and allowed the participating communities to continue the project on their own.

“We understand that joint efforts are more effective with limited resources,” Bunch told a reporter last week. “We (the art community) try to speak with one voice. We get more done by pooling resources than through a lot of small efforts.”

That perspective explains why Bunch was so deserving of the regional arts award this year. Suffolk’s arts community should be proud to have her as one of its guiding forces.