Lorraine Wilde | 11/06/2017 | Arts & Crafts, Shopping, Unwind |   

Explore Allied Arts of Whatcom County All Year Long

Orginally founded by a group of local artists, Allied Arts of Whatcom County is an alliance of Whatcom County creatives. Their over arching goal is to meet the needs of the community while providing opportunities in the arts. For visitors, they produce and distribute the Arts and Culture Guide online and in area hotels and businesses. They also pour their energy into arts education in schools, providing education and exhibition opportunities to local artists and connecting with the community through a whole host of events and exhibitions. I spoke with Allied Arts Executive Director Kelly Hart about the festivals, exhibits, shows, expos and other events that she and her staff accomplish each year. She’s been working with Allied Arts for more than nine years to improve existing programs while continuing to develop new ones.

Arts Education

Allied Arts help provide teaching artists and volunteers to schools throughout Whatcom County. Allied Art has helped serve more than 10,000 local youth ranging from kindergarten through 5th grade. In addition to visual arts, local artists lead workshops in dance, theater and literary arts.

Each May, Allied Arts also hosts the Children’s Art Walk that shares the children’s creations throughout galleries and businesses in Bellingham’s Downtown Arts District.

Photo: Teaching artist Andy Koch introduces students to balloon animals.

Opportunities for Artists

Allied Arts support more than 400 Whatcom County artists through education and exhibition opportunities. Rather than teaching artists how to paint or sculpt, Allied Arts teach them how to present, preserve and sell their work. Through their Business Art Skillshare Sessions, taught by professionals, Allied Arts helps artists learn and make decisions on how to transition their art from a hobby to a vocation. Most sessions are free; open to the public, and held at county libraries. 

Community Engagement

Allied Arts with closely with local organizations to create community-focused programs. Past partnerships have included the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, the City of Bellingham, and Creative Spaces to uses vacant storefronts in Bellingham’s downtown to exhibit works of art. The program supported economic and community development while also providing opportunities for local artists to share their work.

Annual Member's Show in February

The Annual Member's Show is a great way to get an overview of the diversity of artwork being produced in Whatcom County. Usually, in February, Allied Arts display the work of more than 100 different artists. 

Recycled Arts Resource Expo (RARE) in April

A number of Whatcom County-based artists focus their work on the use of recycled materials and sustainability. The Recycled Arts Resource Expo (also known as RARE) brings together Whatcom artists and exhibits focused on repurposing materials, as well as, incorporating elements of environmental consciousness into art. 

Children’s Art Walk in May

Each May, Allied Arts hosts the Children’s Art Walk to share works created by the children throughout Allied's galleries and businesses in the Downtown Arts District. It's a great opportunity, and some first time, having their work displayed outside their house or classroom.  

Whatcom Cultural Festival (NEW) in June

Conveniently scheduled on the same weekend as the Fairhaven Fourth Friday Art Walk is the annual Whatcom Cultural Festival. Allied Arts has partnered with the Historic Fairhaven Association to host this celebration of the diverse cultures in Whatcom County. Enjoy art demonstrations and exhibitions, food, live music, dance performances, and art. 

Bellingham SeaFeast 

In partnership with the Port of Bellingham, Allied Arts coordinated Bellingham SeaFeast art booths with the work of more than 30 artists to showcase the resources of our working waterfront. 

Holiday Festival of the Arts in November & December

The Annual Holiday Festival of the Arts shares the work of over 100 artists for a 5-week period. This is a significant event for local artists and holiday shoppers who bought over 25,000 locally-made objects throughout last year’s festival.

Allied Arts present so many fun, fascinating opportunities to appreciate and connect with local art and artists. Visitors can find a festival, event or exhibition any day of the year! Dive in and get to know Whatcom County art and the creative folks that are sharing and defining our local culture each day.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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