Cutbacks mean no angel project downtown this year

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 15, 2011

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — The economy killed the angels.
Eight-foot-tall wooden angels that have graced downtown Salisbury during the holidays for the past nine years remain in storage this month, cut from the budget of Downtown Salisbury Inc. and victims of an economic downturn.
Randy Hemann, executive director, said his organization can’t afford to spend more than $1,000 installing and removing the 39 angels. Downtown Salisbury must hire help to put up and take down the heavenly hosts.
“They were popular,” Hemann said. “It was a very tough decision.”
The Angels in Salisbury project was one of several items cut to save between $6,000 and $7,000 and balance an “extremely tight” budget, he said.
Previously, the angels were displayed in various downtown locations, including church yards, Robertson Park, Depot Street and Easy Street.
The beloved angels, each painted by a different local artist, are safely stored in an undisclosed downtown basement, Hemann said.
“That is a shame, as they are quite pretty and have interesting stories accompanying them,” resident Debbie Lesley wrote on Facebook.
For the first six years of the project, new angels were commissioned each year, and sponsors paid $500 to cover the cost. Half went to the artist, and half to Downtown Salisbury.
But sponsorships ended about three years ago when Downtown Salisbury stopped commissioning new additions. The host of angels had become so large, the organization couldn’t store any more, said Betz McKeown, special projects manager for Downtown Salisbury.
Taking their inspiration from “Fame,” Salisbury’s Confederate monument, local artists designed and created eight angels in 2001 that were exhibited in the Robertson Eastern Gateway Park at Depot and Innes Streets.
The project was chaired by local artist Janie Allen, who got the idea from an article in “Guideposts” magazine about artist Erica Haba, who created brightly colored angels to display on the waterfront of Monterey, Calif.
The Angels in Salisbury committee decided that instead of having only one artist involved, they would open the project to all interested community artists. The committee eventually dissolved, and Downtown Salisbury took over the project.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.