Franklin Park Arts Center director honored with leadership award

Elizabeth Bracey, managing director of the Franklin Park Visual and Performing Arts Center in Purcellville, received the annual Jim “Doc” Wiley leadership award at the Purcellville Town Council meeting Jan. 26.

Longtime Loudoun County resident Elizabeth Bracey, who has been the managing director at Purcellville’s Franklin Park Visual and Performing Arts Center since 2014, was honored at a recent Purcellville Town Council meeting with the third annual Jim “Doc” Wiley Leadership in the Arts Award.

Selected by the Purcellville Arts Council, Bracey was recognized for her dedication in bringing visual and performing arts to people who live in and visit Purcellville, according to Mayor Kwasi Fraser.

Bracey told the Times-Mirror she was honored to receive the award, especially considering the fact that she knew Doc Wiley well.

“He was very generous to me when I started here and he helped me get to know people in Purcellville,” she said.

Prior to overseeing the Franklin Park Arts Center, Bracey managed the Lovettsville Community Center for 13 years.

However, arts has always been her passion, something instilled in her by her mother, Alice Power, a Lovettsville-based artist who is also active in the theatre community in Loudoun County.

“I just love [Franklin Park] and the fact that parks and recreation is the department that supports it is even better. We are trying to build a community with our programs,” Bracey said.

Bracey believes the programs at Franklin Park — which opened in 2008 — have been successful at showing the community different ways to connect with the arts, even during the pandemic.

In the past year, the programs have pivoted, using new professional live-streaming equipment that was installed for virtual performances. Some of the programs have included lunchtime with the arts events and virtual concerts. The center also hosted an artistic winter lights walk that was “very successful,” Bracey said, drawing 1,100 people in December.

“It has been so important, we have had to adapt to keep arts in the forefront. They are so healing and boost your spirits,” she said. “We have found that people are craving the opportunity to have different and uplifting experiences. That’s what we are focused on.”

Looking ahead, Bracey said her team has been busy planning enchanted carriage rides in the park and is hoping to have more live theater performances this spring.

“We are trying to be optimistic and plan, but a lot will depend on what happens with state mandates,” she said.

They are also planning a visual arts show, working together with writers and visual artists to encourage them to bring their work to life.

“We want to make sure the artists and performers are there with us on the other side of this pandemic,” Bracey said.

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