As members of the Arts Council Board of Trustees and, after discussion with Dr. Hank Parfitt, we present this joint statement in hopes of moving forward towards the common goal to calm some of the controversy over A Dickens Holiday. We are all dedicated to serving the best interests of the entire community.
The original purpose of the event was to use the arts as an economic engine to strengthen our downtown, engage all our community, and to bring tourism to Fayetteville. The event has been a resounding success and accomplished its goal and more. Going forward, the Arts Council in tandem with other community organizations will create an extended holiday celebration beginning on the Friday after Thanksgiving and running through December 24th. We recognize that Dickens has been a much-loved, inclusive event, but we want Fayetteville’s holiday celebration to engage even more of our vibrant community, become an even greater economic engine for all downtown businesses, and bring even more visitors to see all our community has to offer.
As a sign to the public that we are expanding the event, we are calling this “Holidays on Hay… A Season of Light.” The name was selected from 43 possible names and after many hours of discussion. We know that there are many wonderful shops on other streets downtown, but Hay Street is the most identifiable street and it will serve as a beacon for people throughout the entire region.
We appreciate the many members of our community who have reached out to share their opinions, hopes, and ideas for the expanded event. However, the Arts Council has received emails attacking its staff and social media attacks as well. We deplore that some have chosen to engage in personal attacks directed toward the Arts Council staff, an incredibly talented and dedicated group of people who work every day to create events and opportunities that promote our community, the arts, and culture. We know that the vast majority of people in Fayetteville are overwhelmingly gracious and respectful of others.
It is the primary mission of the Arts Council to promote the quality of life in our communities through the arts as well as being deeply committed to ensuring that its programming is reflective of our diversity and welcoming to all. This is a commitment it has tried to live since the inception of the event.
The Arts Council is not closing the doors on the holiday season but intends to expand Fayetteville’s holiday celebration to include other cultures and extend it well into December. People from Fayetteville and from all over eastern North Carolina will have even more reasons to come downtown. We look forward to working with our community partners, like the Downtown Alliance and Cool Spring Downtown District, in this endeavor. The Arts Council is proud to have been a part of this successful event over these past two decades and we are also proud of, and committed to, our ongoingwork to make all facets of the Arts Council – events, grants, programming, and more – reflective and welcoming to all.
This November 25th and throughout December, please join us as we enter the holiday season with “Holidays on Hay… A Season of Light.” If you feel the most festive in your Dickensattire, go ahead and wear it! If you want to share your own unique tradition as part of the event, join us! We’ll be there, waiting for night to fall so we can walk alongside our neighbors, candles in hand, celebrating both the old and the new as we usher in the beginning of the holiday season.
With Deepest Regards,
Chair – Board of Trustees
Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County
Dr. Hank Parfitt
Founder and Member