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Margaret Foltz, Executive Director for the Virginia Beach Arts Center Margaret Foltz, Executive Director for the Virginia Beach Arts Center
2022 Feb

Meet VBAC's Margaret Foltz

Meeting pandemic challenges and celebrating local art.

Margaret Foltz took over as executive director of Virginia Beach Arts Center just before the pandemic hit. Let’s meet Margaret and learn more about upcoming exhibits and what’s unique about the center.

TFP: What’s your background?
MF: I have worked in the nonprofit sector for my entire professional career—almost 25 years! This is my first experience working directly with an arts organization and I couldn’t be happier.

TFP: Are you an artist?
MF: That was one of the questions asked during my interview. I simply laughed and said not even close, unless you count Excel. I am a huge fan of the arts, but do not consider myself an artist.

TFP: Your new position began right before the pandemic started. What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced?
MF: It has been quite a ride! I joined the Art Center on March 17, 2020, and the world began to shut down on the 19th! The challenges began with shifting all work online (classes and exhibitions specifically) and completing onboarding and then managing people and processes via Zoom. Once I had a handle on that, the challenge shifted to bringing artists, instructors, and students and many volunteers back into the building safely. I would have never guessed I would be so focused on things like the CDC, VDH, air flow, disinfecting, masking, and so on! We wanted to be safe with every aspect of the Art Center. I’m happy to report we did it and had a great year. Art won!

TFP: What’s unique about Virginia Beach Art Center?
MF: I think it is the ongoing celebration of local art. We house resident and exhibiting artists with the Artists Gallery, provide free and open-to-the-public monthly exhibitions and offer a wide range of art classes and lectures. And have I mentioned our incredible pottery? Our Art Center brings amazing art opportunities to our community.

TFP: A recent exhibit incorporated children’s art as well as artwork by established artists. Why did you combine the two groups into one exhibit?
MF: We love working with the Virginia Beach City Public Schools! The staff and students are so talented. For that exhibition we asked students from Cooke Elementary to create visual art related to the theme “Believe, Dream, Inspire.” You wouldn’t believe what was submitted. It was incredible.

We were still virtual at that point, so we hosted an online exhibition opening and asked the students to talk about their work. They were so poised in their presentation. This year, we have received poetry submissions from various schools. Local artists are selecting a poem and creating a piece inspired by the poem. Both art and poetry will hang throughout March in our Brock Gallery: The Art of Poetry.

TFP: Why should parents encourage their children to pursue the arts?
MF: Art is a wonderful opportunity to be creative. This creativity will help with overall mental, physical and emotional growth. Believe it or not, creativity is the most fundamental building block for problem solving. If parents want their children to be effective problem solvers, if businesses want future employees who can solve problems, then we all should be fostering creativity. The arts are an inherent vehicle for creativity.

I have two kids (8 and 12) and they both enjoy the process of art and are so relaxed while creating their masterpieces.

TFP: Tell us about the next exhibit at the gallery.
MF: In February we will celebrate Fabulous Forgeries. This is an annual exhibition that our community loves! Local artists will recreate works by master artists. You may see a painting, sculpture, or photograph with a twist that reimagines a known piece of art.

TFP: Why is art important? In what ways can everyone include more art in their lives?
MF: Art helps us explore and process the world about us. It is therapeutic and healing. Art brings people together in thought and mind. Everyone could and should include a little more art in their lives in a way that moves them. Take a class, go to any one of many amazing art organizations throughout Hampton Roads and experience what they have to offer, take a few moments to sketch or color. Go to an art party with friends. Paint and sips are really fun. You don’t have to be a talented artist (I speak first-hand here) to enjoy and appreciate the arts.

TFP: What future plans do you have for the Art Center?
MF: Our nonprofit started small just a few years ago, and the growth has been unbelievable. Our future plans focus around growth. We want to meet the needs and desires of our community and offer exceptional opportunities to experience (engage with) art.

TFP: Please share anything you’d like our readers to know about you or the Art Center.
MF: We would love to see you at our Art Center! Please come visit us in the bright purple building on 17th Street, 532 Virginia Beach Blvd. in the ViBe Creative District. Our Art Center is a fun, welcoming, and inspiring place for all to enjoy! You can learn more by visiting our website at www.artcentervb.org.

Peggy Sijswerda

Peggy Sijswerda is the editor and publisher of Tidewater Family Plus magazine. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Old Dominion University and is the author of Still Life with Sierra, a travel memoir. Peggy also freelances for a variety of regional, national, and international magazines.

Website: www.peggysijswerda.com

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