A Tribute to Our Founder: H. Lee Fowlkes
Lee Fowkes' North Star was his passion for the arts. The arts steered his life as well as his career. After earning a bachelor's degree at Davidson College and the a Master of Fine Arts degree at UNCG, he was an artist in residence at Duke University and the North Carolina Arts Council. He wanted to return to his home and his family in Caswell County. He spent the remainder of his life in Caswell County.
In 1977 Mr. Fowlkes founded our organization as a way to celebrate the arts and bring them to his home. Devoting his life to the arts, he served as our president and executive director as well as Director of Arts in Education for Caswell County Schools. He also served as Director of the Caswell Civic Center.
His love for the arts and his commitment to Caswell County brought significant transformation to the area. Because of his passion, Yanceyville became an arts hub. Mr. Fowlkes said, "Normally, shows work their way southward from New York down through Richmond before swinging west toward Atlanta. We just happen to be in a good location."
For the next thirty years Caswell Civic Center was abuzz with acclaimed productions. Under Folwkes' guidance the venure hosted productions spanning every genre from pop music to full Broadway productions such as Guys and Dolls. The Civic Center also hosted small productions, such as the principal dancers from New York City Ballet and the American Ballet Theater's tribute to Ginger Rodgers and Fred Astaire. Other music productions included Della Resse, The Shirelles, The Montovani Orchestra and Chorus. Aaron Neville also appeared at the Civic Center. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdjxE-JC-io&feature=youtu.be
On September 16, 2016 Caswell Council for the Arts' home was officially dedicated at the Lee Fowlkes Gallery. More than the dedication of a building, the event was a tribute to Fowlkes' leadership and vision.
“I was thinking of words that describe him. Some of them include compassion, intelligence, great foresight, and generosity. He is also a person of tremendous courage and strength of the human spirit. He has had an astonishing life and we are more fortunate because of that life”. - CCFTA Board Member
"It Is because of his leadership that the arts in Caswell County continue to thrive through tough time and good times." - Nell Page
"We wouldn't be where we are it it was not for him." - Barbara Berger
Two months later, on November 7, 2016, after a period of declining health, Mr. Fowkes passed away.
Caswell Council for the Arts continues Mr. Fowlkes' legacy - bringing positive arts experiences and opportunities to our citizens while supporting local artists and nurturing creative expression - keeping the arts alive and prospering in our community.