Conscious party: Open Hearts Art Center’s talent show supports the nonprofit’s creative programming

Perennial dancer Steve Koening performs an Elvis impersonation at each of Open Heart's annual talent shows, and he's treating this year's audience to a remake of the King's "Burning Love." Photo by Heather Hambor

WHAT: Open Hearts Art Center art exhibit and talent show

WHERE: Asheville Community Theater

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 5 (art exhibit 12-2 p.m., talent show 2:30-4 p.m.)

WHY: Open Hearts Art Center, a day-habilitation program that nurtures the artistic aptitudes of disabled adults — or “differently abled adults,” as founder and director of arts and events Debbie Harris prefers to call members — is shining a spotlight on these burgeoning creatives with an annual art exhibit and talent show fundraiser.

“When we secured Asheville Community Theater [as a venue], it was perfect, because there’s also a big gallery in the front of the theater. It’s a place where we can exhibit everyone’s talents,” Harris says, noting that the visual arts of some 50 individuals will adorn the lobby before the live action begins. Open Hearts regularly helps its members sell their creations throughout the community, and these pieces will be up for sale.

Meanwhile, those who are brave enough to take the stage have planned an afternoon of dancing, singing, poetry readings and other entertainment.

Although the nonprofit’s day-to-day operations are funded by Medicaid, proceeds from the talent show will support Open Heart’s Boundless Art Project. Under this program, members use a donated 15-passenger van to travel to their own art demonstrations and performances around town, craft lessons in the River Arts District and other networking activities like blueberry picking and mixers with members of similar organizations. Funds will cover vehicle maintenance, insurance, permitting, the program coordinator’s payments and eventually, a smaller second vehicle for mini excursions.

For several years now, the event’s fundraising aspirations have snowballed, according to Harris, but “this year’s talent show is really more about the artists — just showing off their talents.” She expects ticket sales to cover the cost of the venue, while additional donations toward the Boundless Art Project will be accepted on-site. “We’re also going to have a raffle and a bake sale,” she says.

Visit for more information and tickets, which cost $10 per person. Tickets can also be purchased at the ACT box office on the day of show.

About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.