Hang around at the Arts Festival’s Silent Auction barn in front of Panera Bread long enough, and you’ll surely see volunteer Anne Layng. She’ll be the one with flowers in her hair, flashing a bright smile to all who pass by and stop to browse and bid.
“It’s such a neat surprise when you see people you haven’t seen all year long,” says Anne, who has volunteered with the Silent Auction for the past six or seven years. Before that, she helped for years as an Artist Ambassador. “I remember starting the Ambassador program with Maureen Dunham in the early 80s. As an Ambassador, I got to know the artists,” says Anne. “People remember that you helped them. I have close relationships with my favorite artists.”
It’s easy to see why. Her enthusiasm and her smile are infectious, and she can’t imagine not volunteering with the Arts Festival. “I’ve never missed a Festival since I started, back around 1981 when Bob Potter first asked me to volunteer.”
Anne recalls fondly some of her favorite purchases, from the earliest leaded glass hangings to her more recent collection of Mary Jackson baskets. “To me, the Arts Festival is an amazing stew of creativity in which to immerse myself. My favorite art becomes a part of me and reminds me of the people and the experiences from that time in my life.”
Over time, Anne has become a passionate and protective ambassador for the Arts Festival all year-round, not just that one week in July. “I hang the Festival poster on my office door, and it sparks conversations with people all the time.”
She also may have provided the seed of an idea to expand the Arts Festival’s presence and mission into the winter. “I had some friends up in Boston, and I remember talking to Phil Walz about a new event they had called First Night. He was inspired by the idea and launched our own First Night State College not too long after. I love volunteering during First Night, too.”
Anne enjoys art and understands its value to the human spirit, but it is her relationships with the people involved with the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts that drive her desire to give even more. She is currently serving a second term on the Board of Directors and just recently informed the staff of her intention to include the Arts Festival in her will. She wants to leave a legacy that fosters and rewards creativity and relationships between artist and audience.
“I currently sponsor and get to announce an Award of Merit each year for an artist in the Sidewalk Sale and Exhibition,” says Anne. “And I know I will continue to have a meaningful impact on deserving artists even after I’m gone.”
As the Arts Festival celebrates its 50th birthday in 2016, we are grateful to Anne for her work as a volunteer over the past 35 years and her commitment to the Festival’s next fifty years into the future.