Bruce Bland

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 hard-driving 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.

Bonnie Bray

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.

Robert Carroll

Robert does not do “business as usual,” either at RE/MAX Southern Coast, where he is partner and broker in charge, or at home with family in a uniquely restored historic house in downtown Southport. His dedication to innovation encourages him to blend the latest digital technology with time-honored, people-driven factors that traditionally drive real estate sales, and he has built a highly successfully practice with the results. Equally keen is Robert’s grasp of elements essential to healthy societies and his commitment to being as engaged in the life of his community as he is in his business. Up Your Arts flourishes with Robert’s aspiration at its core.

Shawn Duncan

Shawn is a founding member of Dave’s Not Home, 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.

Bob Gentile

Bob has practiced his musical talent in myriad ways: educated at Berklee College of Music, owned two music stores near Boston, performed up and down the Atlantic coast, featured in at least five local bands (at last count) as The Bassman, electric and upright — and now gives lessons, too. His other career is steeped in a different not-for-profit world, as director of a successful education and recreation center in New York. Adept at securing grants, donor funding, and leveraged relationships, in addition to full-time management, Bob retired after 30 years running the camp, moved to Southport, and never missed a beat. Up Your Arts is thrilled to have his energy, proficiency, and brilliant sense of direction for having found us.

Diana Johnson

Diana carried her love of dance to Southport three 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.

John Keiffer

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 2009, he has cemented his passion for the creative and performing arts as the quintessential ambassador for Up Your Arts.

Rick Kranz

Rick adds a hefty dose of digital sophistication and over 30 years of business management experience to the Up Your Arts board of directors. A noted expert in developing tech-savvy marketing strategies for commercial success, Rick founded Southport-based OverGo Studio, Inc., in 2011 after relocating from Long Island. For fun, he moonlights, combining his business acumen with a matching passion for jazz music, building audiences for LunaSea, a seven-member band in which he plays drums. Up Your Arts is equally fortunate to have caught Rick’s avid interest, time, and talent, too.

Tina Powers

Tina is a North Carolina native living in Southport since 2001. She knows more intimate details about the area and its people than most – she manages a booming real estate practice by day and provides bartending service nights at the area’s most popular watering hole. It’s an unbeatable combination if your passion, like hers, is understanding the ties that bind a community together, in order to contribute to it in a meaningful way. Tina’s work with the Southport-Oak Island Interchurch Fellowship and her long-time connection to St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church have faithfully served that desire. Up Your Arts, too, is the happy beneficiary of Tina’s head/heart/home approach and the strength of her commitment to it.

Emma Thomas

Emma is an award-winning, long-standing contributor to the vibrancy of Southport’s business community as the owner of The Adventure Kayak Company. She launched in 2000, after building a career in parks and recreation management, and has set the gold standard for excellence in customer service ever since. Emma also works extensively with non-profit organizations and government agencies throughout the region to pair her knowledge of coastal North Carolina’s outdoor wonders with the village it takes to maintain them. This focus is a necessary ingredient to the success of Up Your Arts’ mission, and Emma is the necessary spark to ensure it.