Adele SchaeferLong before Adele Schaefer became president of the Fluvanna County Arts Council (FCAC), she was a volunteer in both civic and political activities.

“Let’s just say that volunteering and taking on projects has been in my blood for a very long time,” said Schaefer. While in Northern Virginia, she was an administrative assistant to a Virginia state senator and held managerial positions in two non-profit membership organizations: the American Psychological Association and the Psychological Association of Pastoral Counselors. Nowadays, she sells real estate and once owned her own real estate company. Currently, she is an associate broker with Monticello Country Realtors. Her experiences through her volunteer and paid work have given her the skills and patience to work though complex problems with deliberate thoughtfulness and to maintain a positive outlook while remaining gracious. A sense of humor helps too.

In late 2011 a friend who was on the arts council asked if Schaefer would like to come to an FCAC meeting since they were looking for new members.

“I had very little knowledge as to just what the council did, so decided to check it out,” Schaefer said. She had only attended two meetings when she received a call that the FCAC president, Bill Anderson, had suddenly died. “At a hastily-called FCAC meeting to determine who was going to take his place, I somehow found myself as the new president.”

Schaefer has exercised her interest in the performing arts as a regular in the alto section of the Fluvanna Community Singers. As a child growing up in Ridgewood, N.J., and Fluvanna County, she was exposed to her mother’s love of the visual arts. Patty Stoughton was one of the original founding members of the Fluvanna Art Association. But Schaefer preferred performing on stage.

“I had graduated from the old Fluvanna High School at Carysbrook in the late ‘50s and had spent many hours on the Carysbrook stage under the fine directorship of Mrs. Eleanor Talley. So, with those memories holding a soft spot in my heart, it isn’t hard to understand how I became involved with FCAC,” she said.

As unexpected as her newfound position was, Schaefer has made a concerted effort to keep the performing arts thriving in Fluvanna.

“The long-time FCAC members were burned out at that point and I didn’t want to see something that was so important to the community come to a slow end,” she said. “It took some time just to figure out what needed to be done and who the players were, but the council members were so very supportive and we all kept moving forward.”

After years of a tumultuous relationship between the Persimmon Tree Players (PTP) and former arts council members, the first thing the FCAC did under Schaefer’s guidance was to welcome PTP to use the Carysbrook Theater for its plays.

“Carysbrook Theater is a gem with just over 270 seats, fantastic acoustics, two dressing rooms under the stage, and updated light and sound system. Performers are always telling us what a joy it is to perform there,” Schaefer said.

“As time went on and I had a little bit of understanding of the nuts and bolts of the FCAC and its responsibilities, my vision for the council and the Carysbrook center became a little clearer,” she said. Carysbrook Center for the Performing Arts is here for the community, Schaefer said, and it was up to the FCAC to ensure that the entertainment provided at the theater was available to and enjoyable to the community. This prompted them to drop ticket prices, making it more accessible for people to experience live performances. The council worked on having performances that the entire community would enjoy and even participate in, including Fluvanna’s Got Talent.

“I don’t think my vision for FCAC has changed very much in the past five and half years. I still want it to be the place where people can be entertained at a reasonable price and leave with a smile on their face,” she said.

“However, we do need new and younger blood on the council. We are always looking for new ideas and volunteers and lots of feedback. Our audience votes their enthusiasm by their attendance and I hope that one of these days having a full house is the norm rather than the exception.”

Lack of money plays a role in what sort of shows the FCAC can obtain. “The FCAC works hard to have other types of performances which sometimes are a hit and sometimes not,” Schaefer said. “Unfortunately, because of the high cost of hiring more well-known performers, we cannot hire them. However, the FCAC is trying to find grant money that would enable us to hire performers that would be big draws.”

She believes the future is bright for FCAC. But she is quick to point out that it means volunteers and more money. “We are doing everything we can to get both,” she said. “I am hopeful and excited to see what the future has in store for us.”

When she is not promoting the performing arts, she is enjoying her “exceptional” three children and five grandchildren.

“My motto: Everything is doable, you just have to figure it out,” she said.