Shannon has over a decade of experience producing conferences, festivals and other special events for organizations as diverse as Microsoft and the Country Music Association. This experience led her to Washington, DC, with an invitation to join the planning and execution team for the 2009 presidential inauguration. Now a resident of Southport, Shannon devotes her professional time to small business consulting. Her extensive organizational skills and her life time passion for the arts make her a critical asset to the success of Up Your Arts.
After many years of visiting the Brunswick County coast, Ken relocated permanently last year from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Oak Island, where he pursues his lifelong passion as a singer, songwriter and guitarist. Ken built a successful real estate firm in Charlotte, Shell Realty Services, specializing in property management and sales. He also has extensive knowledge of contract negotiations and restaurant brokerage. His musical talent is currently on display at local performance venues, where he also frequently hosts open mic sessions. He is strongly committed to supporting and promoting the arts through UpYour Arts.
Bonnie brings an abiding appreciation for the arts to this endeavor. She is a writer, amateur photographer, and novice potter, with a 25-year career as the chief financial officer for local governments in Maryland and North Carolina. This focus has given her direct experience managing the details of community engagement with public and private resources, many specializing in arts-related outcomes. Bonnie sees Up Your Arts as a vital link between artists and their audiences — and the contributions both make to the quality of life in this area.
Shawn is the founding member of The Groove Pirates, a local band well known and appreciated by area musicians. It is not unusual at any given performance to see him play guitar, mandolin and keyboards, and then switch to drums, bass and vocals. A self-taught sound engineer, he enjoys over 25 years of experience in event production, aided and abetted by a background as a professional photographer. Originally from New England, Shawn owned and operated a photography business there for 20 years. He now resides in Southport and brings a wide range of talents to Up Your Arts.
John began playing guitar as a boy, picking blue grass tunes in the mountains of North Carolina with friends and family. He later developed a unique style of performance and showmanship as a blues musician. A guitar virtuoso, John toured and recorded professionally for years, appearing on stage with nationally known “A-list” musicians. He currently sells, repairs and consigns quality stringed instruments and related equipment from his guitar shop at Southport Johnnies, where he also paints and teaches a variety of instruments. He performs regularly with Southport Johnny and the Bizness and fills the role of elder musical statesman for Up Your Arts.
Carla is a classically-trained vocalist, pottery artist and freelance writer. She moved to Boiling Spring Lakes in 2005 and became active with the Associated Artists of Southport the following year. She is currently a pottery instructor at the Southport campus of Brunswick Community College, a vocalist with The Groove Pirates Band, and assistant editor for Southport and Leland Magazines, for which she also writes the Art Beat, a monthly column featuring local artists and crafts people. Up Your Arts is a natural extension of her ongoing immersion in this area’s numerous arts communities.
John is a local musician, graphic artist, and painter, who retired to Southport after a career as a paramedic in the Washington, DC, area, where he also taught college and organized large- and small-scale public events, including a series of cutting-edge arts festivals. This wide-ranging experience, coupled with an academic career in theological studies, successful occupations as a youth minister and a residential builder in Boston, informs John’s delight with connecting dots. Since moving here in 2010, he has cemented his passion for the creative and performing arts with his graphic design studio at Southport Johnnies and as the quintessential ambassador for Up Your Arts.
Michael P. Mitchem
Michael is native to the Southport/Oak Island area, with over 20 years of experience as a guitarist and an audio recording engineer. During this time, he has been in a unique position to develop his craft with some of the best working musicians in the area, and, as such, brings a finely tuned local perspective to Up Your Arts. Michael is currently a specialist in computer software security, having spent the bulk of his professional life in the information technology industry. Michael’s talents in this arena are generously dedicated to the success of Up Your Arts.
Diana brought her love of dance to Southport two years ago, after decades as a teacher and performer with the Sacred Dance Guild of Fredericksburg, Virginia, and other dance societies in Connecticut and Greensboro, North Carolina. Diana’s professional accomplishments also include years as a cast member with “The Lost Colony,” the nation’s longest running outdoor drama about Roanoke Island, in addition to owning a dance and yoga studio in Nags Head. She now teaches yoga in Southport and practices at Hearts and Sol Wellness on Oak Island. Up Your Arts is well served by Diana’s deep engagement with dance and the healing arts.
Bruce moved to Southport in 2013 from the Atlanta area, after a 37-year career in facilities development with the federal government, where he specialized in site acquisition, construction, and real estate management. The musical skills Bruce acquired in his teens took a back seat until retirement but hit center stage again in 2015, when he joined up with equally talented musicians whose penchant for harddriving rock and roll made them favorites with Southport’s dance scene. His performance in this and other bands, as well as weekly open-mic venues, has since solidified his status as the go-to bass player for area musicians when expertise, proficiency, and flexibility are required. Bruce supports all efforts to return the love and help build Southport’s reputation of being arts friendly by contributing to the success of Up Your Arts.