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R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Provides 3,000 Pieces of Art to Arts Council
Cherry and walnut dulcimers by Edd L. Presnell of Banner Elk, N.C., part of the R.J. Reynolds' art collection being provided to the Arts Council in Winston-Salem.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.- The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County will be the beneficiary of about 3,000 pieces of artwork from the corporate collection of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. The artwork is valued at approximately $700,000. "After more than 100 years of purchasing art to enhance the work environment of our employees, we have far more art than we can display," said Mark Peters, chief financial officer of R.J. Reynolds. "We were faced with the decision of whether to continue to store pieces indefinitely, or get them back into the community where they can be enjoyed by others. The arts transform our community, and we're delighted to play a role in that transformation."

The Reynolds American Foundation, Reynolds American Inc., its operating companies and employees have a long history of support for the arts in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Year after year, the corporation and its employees have made substantial contributions to annual Arts Council campaigns, donating millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours. The Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts, which opened last September in downtown Winston-Salem, has a large community events space named "Reynolds Place" in recognition of that support.

Many of the works being provided to the council by R.J. Reynolds are by local and North Carolina artists. They include oils, watercolors, sculpture, pottery, ceramics and textiles.

The Arts Council plans to sell most of the pieces of art to community members, individual collectors, museums or other organizations. The proceeds of the sales will be used to fund Arts Council programs and funded groups.

"This is significant and very meaningful for several reasons," said Milton Rhodes, president and CEO of the Arts Council. "Fundraising is extremely difficult in this economic environment, so the generosity of R.J. Reynolds will benefit ultimately a host of local arts organizations and individual artists who receive grants from The Arts Council.

"Also, many of the works are by local artists who are of interest to people in the community," Rhodes said. "Rather than being in storage, they will be in hands of those who appreciate and enjoy them."

The Arts Council is looking toward an event at the Rhodes Center in February 2012, when art will be displayed and sold. "Because of the large number of pieces, the logistics of all this are daunting," said Rhodes. "We want to be as fair and transparent as possible, and we'd like to offer pieces at affordable prices for the community, while maximizing the value of this opportunity and its benefit to the arts community we serve."

The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County was established in 1949 and was the first locally established arts council in the United States. The Arts Council enriches the quality of life for people in Winston-Salem and neighboring communities by raising funds for the arts, advocating for the arts, sponsoring events in conjunction with other arts organizations, providing educational opportunities, strengthening cultural resources, developing social capital, and aiding economic development. In 2010, The Arts Council awarded more than $1.825 million in grants to 42 arts and cultural organizations and 19 individual artists.

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