Four Local Arts Councils Present Original Artwork to CBC & WRAL-TV as Thanks for Big Night In For The Arts

“I’m so proud that we continued our ‘quarantine’ era track record of community success by supporting not one, but FOUR community arts councils. It was true CBC team work to make the event happen.”
– WRAL-TV Brand Director Heather Gray

Big Night In For The Arts Presentation

WRAL-TV’s Debra Morgan (center left) accepts an original piece by artist Marcelle Harwell Pachnowski (center right) and the leaders of the four area arts councils on Thursday, April 29, 2021, as thanks for the Big Night In For the Arts.

The leaders of the four local art councils stopped by Capitol Broadcasting on Thursday, April 29, 2021, to make a special presentation.  Visual artist Marcelle Harwell Pachnowski brought an original piece of her artwork as a gift to CBC and WRAL-TV for hosting and producing the Big Night In For the Arts fundraiser which brought in over $350,000 back in March. The televised and live-streamed event benefited the Chatham Arts Council, Durham Arts Council, Orange County Arts Commission and United Arts of Raleigh and Wake County.

The event was an unprecedented collaboration between CBC and the four separate arts councils, coming together to support the many artists and arts organizations in our area who were all hit hard by the pandemic.

“Big Night In for the Arts was a watershed moment for our local arts and culture community,” said United Arts President Charles Phaneuf.  “Thanks to the WRAL/CBC team, we shared the incredible talents of local artists and organizations with over 30,000 people over the air and through online streaming, which has never happened before. The funds people contributed come at a crucial time when the local arts community is working so hard to serve the community, and be a force for greater equity, and yet faces so many challenges as we come back from the pandemic.”

Big Night In For The Arts Presentation

WRAL-TV’s Debra Morgan (left) accepts an original piece by artist Marcelle Harwell Pachnowski and the leaders of the four area arts councils on Thursday, April 29, 2021, as thanks for the Big Night In For the Arts.

Orange County Arts Commission Director Katie Murray appreciated the opportunity to come together in a huge way, on an ambitious project in a new-to-her arena to support the arts.

“Working with the team at WRAL was the highlight of my experience with Big Night In,” she said.  “Everyone’s enthusiasm and vision for our project was so encouraging, which was important since this was uncharted territory for those of us who don’t typically work in a virtual/TV world. The program itself shared our story in such a beautiful and heartfelt way; in addition to helping us raise a bunch of money, it reminded me of why I love what I do!”

The epic night for the arts was a team effort that took a large number of WRAL staffers to make happen.

“Big Night In for the Arts was a true cross-departmental collaboration,” said WRAL-TV Brand Director Heather Gray.  “The idea developed through the work of WRAL-TV & Corp Community Relations Director Loretta Harper-Arnold and then moved to the local production team, led by WRAL-TV Local Production Manager Don Ursich. Art and design were created by WRAL-TV Visual Design Director Shan Zhong and on-air execution by the WRAL News team, with talent support from WRAL-TV Anchors Lena Tillett, Debra Morgan and Gerald Owens made this project an ‘all hands on deck’ event.”

CBC determined to help as many local arts organizations and artists as possible, utilizing the reach of all four local arts councils.

“I’m so proud that we continued our ‘quarantine’ era track record of community success by supporting not one, but FOUR community arts councils,” said Gray.  “It was true CBC team work to make the event happen.”


“I simply could not be happier with the end result of Big Night In, and the WRAL team is a major reason for that.”
– Orange County Arts Commission Director Katie Murray


Pachnowski live-painted during Big Night In For the Arts, and her creations were auctioned off as part of the fundraiser.  She paints inspired by music, so she created a painting during each of the musical performances during the evening.  Pachnowski created a special piece for CBC and WRAL-TV, as a thanks on behalf of the four arts councils.

Big Night In For The Arts Presentation

WRAL-TV’s Joel Davis (l to r) talks to the leaders of the four area arts councils: Charles Phaneuf, United Arts of Raleigh & Wake County; Katie Murray, Orange County Arts Commission; Cheryl Chamblee, Chatham Arts Council; and Sherry DeVries, Durham Arts Council; when they stopped by WRAL on Thursday, April 29, 2021, to present artwork as thanks for the Big Night In For The Arts.

“Getting to deliver a piece by Marcelle Pachnowski, the artist who painted live on March 11, to Debra Morgan was a real treat,” said Phaneuf.  “We’ve so missed getting to see our partners in person and now this work will live on in CBC’s wonderful art collection.”

Morgan accepted the piece on behalf of CBC and WRAL.  Gray coordinated the presentation and WRAL-TV Local Production Producer Steve Elizondo and WRAL-TV Promotion Producer II Glenn Dion captured the moment on camera for the evening newscast.  WRAL-TV Vice President & General Manager Joel Davis also got to come out and talk to the arts leaders.

“Getting to finally meet the staff in person at the presentation felt like getting to meet old friends,” said Murray.  “I simply could not be happier with the end result of Big Night In, and the WRAL team is a major reason for that.”

Gray and her team were also so glad to be able to set up the presentation to happen safely in-person on  a patio outside at the station.

“This recognition in the form of the art gift was a genuine blessing,” said Gray.  “Not only did we get to connect with our community arts leaders (in a socially distant way!)-it also marked the first ‘visitors’ to the station for my team in more than a year. This felt like a true shift in our current Covid world.  It felt GREAT to see people and remember that human connection, when it’s safe, is one of the greatest gifts.”

The Big Night In For The Arts took place on Thursday, March 11, 2021, on WRAL, live on-air and streaming. Performers included country music star and Garner native Scotty McCreery, Tony-nominated actress and Raleigh native Ariana DeBose, who originated the role of The Bullet in the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” Chapel Hill-based folk music duo Mandolin Orange, three-time Grammy Award winner Branford Marsalis of Durham, and Chatham County-based actor and playwright Mike Wiley.

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