Sunday, April 25, 2010

Woodruff Salutes Georgia Arts in Education Leaders Program Announces 2009-2010 Honorees

The Woodruff Arts Center is pleased to announce the 2009-2010 Woodruff Salutes Georgia Arts in Education Leaders honorees:
  • Yatesy Harvey – Drama Teacher, Forsyth Central High School
  • Brenda May Ito – Professor of Theatre, Columbus State University
  • Kirby Meng – Art Teacher, Hickory Flat Elementary School (Henry County)
  • Ricky Williams – Band Director, Bennett’s Mill Middle School (Fayette County)
  • Dr. Beverly Hall – Superintendent, Atlanta Public Schools
Woodruff Salutes is a program designed to honor teachers, school and arts administrators, community leaders, and volunteers throughout Georgia who have championed and demonstrated the ability of the arts to impact positively the lives and learning of young people. The program is in its third year and since it’s founding has honored 14 educators chosen from more than 180 nominations. Honorees are selected by the Woodruff Arts Center Education Task Force.

This year’s honorees represent a variety of art disciplines including music, drama, and visual arts. Each honoree was chosen because of their exemplary leadership in the use of arts in education and for their impact on the community, state, and discipline they serve.

As part of this recognition, honorees will receive $2,500 to contribute to the arts program of their choice. They will also be honored with a reception at their school as well as a culminating reception at the Woodruff Arts Center on May 22, 2010. For more information, visit

The Woodruff Arts Center recognizes the power and potential of opening young minds through the arts. The Woodruff’s divisions – Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, High Museum of Art, and Young Audiences – share a mission to provide arts learning experiences of the highest quality. This campus-wide commitment makes arts education uniquely based on performances, exhibitions and school curriculums accessible via one arts center. Through the Woodruff, the arts bring learning to life for more than a million students across Georgia and neighboring states each year.

Since 1968, the Woodruff Arts Center has served more than 30 million patrons and annually offers more than 3,300 performances and exhibitions. In addition to its role as a cultural beacon and hub of the Southeast, the Center serves as a critical economic, educational, and social catalyst for Atlanta and the region. For more, visit

2009-2010 Honoree Biographies

Yatesy Harvey
Forsyth Central High School

The Woodruff Arts Center is pleased to honor Yatesy Harvey for 21 years of service to the students of Forsyth Central High School. During her career as Drama Teacher, the school has won fifteen Region One Act Play championships and nine State One Act Play championships. Many of her students have continued acting at the professional level and others have become drama educators themselves. Through her tireless efforts in supporting the Arts, performing arts centers have been built at all high schools in Forsyth County and she has been a consultant for building numerous theatres across the state. Mrs. Harvey has announced her retirement at the end of the current school year. Forsyth Central High School Principal, Rudy Hampton, said of Mrs. Harvey, “She has been the key figure in producing one of the best drama programs in the state and country. Mrs. Harvey has devoted her professional life to building a first class drama department at Forsyth Central and to promoting the arts not only in the state of Georgia but throughout the country.”

Brenda May Ito
Columbus State University

The Woodruff Arts Center is pleased to honor Brenda May Ito for her commitment to drama and education. She is a Professor of Theatre and is the Artistic Director and Program Manager for Columbus State University’s Theatre for Youth program. In that role, Ms. May Ito produces shows that tour to several schools and cities throughout Georgia. Last year alone her shows visited sixty-nine schools and performed to over 48,000 students. Under her direction, theatre students participate in countless community outreach activities including story readings to children, fire prevention puppet shows, and charity benefit performances. She is also the sole advisor for students in the Drama Education degree track, typically 50-60 students a semester. Timothy McGraw, Chair of the Theatre Department at Columbus State University said of Ms. May Ito, “Brenda’s service to students of all ages has been prolific, innovative, and creative, reaching far into the local and statewide communities.”

Kirby Meng
Hickory Flat Elementary School

The Woodruff Arts Center is pleased to honor Kirby Meng for her dedication to arts education. Her career has taken her from secondary education to elementary school education to education leadership and now back to the elementary school classroom. Mrs. Meng’s influence on education reaches outside her classroom. She has served as President for the Georgia Arts Education Association and is a regular presenter at the annual National Arts Education Association Convention. Debi West, a GAEA associate and previous Woodruff Salutes honoree said of Mrs. Meng, “Being a leader in this field has changed her life and her teaching as well as teaching styles of others. Kirby knows that great teachers share ideas and learn from one another. We have all learned so much from her and we know that we will continue to learn from her.” Mrs. Meng has been recognized for her commitment to art education numerous times, including the awards of State Elementary School Art Educator of the Year, State Art Educator of the Year, and two awards from her school for Teacher of the Year.

Ricky Williams
Bennett’s Mill Middle School

The Woodruff Arts Center is pleased to honor Ricky Williams for more than 20 years of service to music education in Georgia. Mr. Williams has been the Band Director for Bennett’s Mill Middle School since the school opened in 2007. He demands hard work, discipline, and teamwork, and holds students to a high standard. He strongly encourages all students to take private lessons and has established a Private Lesson Academy at the school to make lessons more accessible to students. Mr. Williams is dedicated to student growth, volunteering his time before and after school to work with any students who need extra coaching. Mr. Williams finds opportunities for his band to perform in the community and competitively, having won many awards and honors in a very short time. Carolyn Callison, a parent of one of Mr. Williams’ students said of his efforts, “As a parent, I am very happy that my children have had the opportunity to be a part of such a first-rate band program. Mr. Williams is dedicated to providing top quality music education and has inspired a love of music in many students that they will enjoy for a lifetime.”

Dr. Beverly Hall
Superintendent, Atlanta Public Schools

The Woodruff Arts Center is pleased to honor Dr. Beverly Hall for her commitment to arts education in the Atlanta Public Schools (APS). Now in her eleventh year as Superintendent, Dr. Hall has overseen APS’s transformation into one of Georgia’s premiere school systems.

APS boasts some of the best arts programs in the state, and this is due in part to Dr. Hall’s recognition and support of arts education. In 2002, Dr. Hall helped transform the underachieving Carver High School into four, theme-based schools, including the Carver School of the Arts. Today, Carver School of the Arts boasts a 100% graduation rate. In 2008, Dr. Hall helped establish the Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School, a “small learning community” that features a Fine Arts professional pathway program. Garden Hills Elementary, another of the schools that Dr. Hall presides over, has taken advantage of the numerous programs offered by the four divisions of the Woodruff Arts Center: Young Audiences, the Alliance Theatre, High Museum of Art, and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Under the leadership of Dr. Hall, The arts at Henry W. Grady High School are more vibrant and productive than ever, encouraging students to participate in the incredible arts culture that Midtown Atlanta has to offer.

Being a Woodruff Salutes honoree will be the most recent accolade for Dr. Hall, who has also received the prestigious Keystone Award for Leadership in Education, and in 2009, was named National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators.

Dr. Hall continues to work hand in hand with the arts community to find ways to ensure that every student in the APS school system get exposure to the arts. We applaud Dr. Hall for her incredible leadership and commitment to Prek-12 arts education.
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Opinion: Who will play Dorothy? Who will dance Clara?

The question is not “…who will dance these roles in “The Wizard of Oz” or “The Nutcracker.”

The question is “…will there be forthcoming performances of “Wizard” or “Nutcracker” in the foreseeable future without state support of the arts.

The Georgia Council for the Arts is threatened with extinction.

This can only mean that Camelot productions of their fine family shows such as “The Wizard of Oz” or the Christmas favorite of the Griffin Ballet Theatre may come to an end.

Both these fine regional companies depend on the Georgia Council for the Arts for support to mount these splendid productions enjoyed by hundreds of Spalding County residents every season.

For example, the recent collaboration between the Griffin Choral Arts and Griffin Ballet Theater reached a thousand new-comers to ballet and the choral arts with their well-received performances of “The Armed Man.” The Griffin Auditorium was packed for two nights of mesmerizing entertainment with this unique collaboration between two of Griffin’s finest performing arts groups. GCA helped support this brilliant group effort.

Every November, the Griffin Ballet Theatre, presents the holiday favorite “The Nutcracker” and has presented this Tchaikovsky masterpiece for over a dozen years with help from GCA. They could not do this alone without state support.

Remember that the sale of tickets covers only about one-third of the cost of these productions. Why? Because these are live performances, not recorded on film or shows that are repeated verbatim from one night to the next (like those road-shows that come to Atlanta). They are often one-night-stands that must pay for themselves with a limited, one time audience.

And with important support from the GCA.

The theater arts in Griffin (Camelot or Main Street Players), the visual arts (Griffin-Spalding Art Association) or the literary arts (Flint River Writers' Group) play an important esthetic as well as economic role in making Griffin and Spalding County livable and economically sound.

How many more Italian dinners did Angelo’s Café serve before “The Armed Man” concerts; did Grogan’s gas station sell more gasoline to get students and parents to and from the auditorium for rehearsals and performances of “The Nutcracker” and did the Corner Café in the old McClellan’s store sell more sandwiches and salads before Sande Cropsey’s recent hit, “Who’s There?”

And the jammed-packed performances of Camelot’s “Disney’s High School Musical” helped to fill, not only The Enrichment Center, but also the nearby Mexican Tequila Café and the Waffle House.

Let’s not forget that the Georgia Council for the Arts has been very generous to the arts in Griffin.

It was the Griffin Ballet Theatre, which in 2008, received $2,000 from the GCA to mount the full-length ballet “Robin Hood,” with original choreography by Ballet Theatre’s founder Mitch Flanders.

In 2008, the fledgling Griffin Choral Arts received $1449 for their Master Works Concert. The next year, Camelot received $1000 for their lively “Radio Story Drama” and Closer Look Ministries used their $500 from GCA's Grassroots Arts Fund to mount their successful “IMAGINE Storytelling Festival.

In 2009, Griffin Area Arts Alliance produced over fifty weekly radio shows promoting the arts on WHIE; while Griffin Choral Arts used their $1000 to sing “Sweet Lovers Love the Spring.” That same year, Main Street Theatre offered a “Free Night of Theater” to introduce new audiences to the legitimate theater on Hill Street.

This season, GCA helped make two ambitious productions possible: the Griffin Choral Arts/Griffin Ballet Theatre’s “The Armed Man, A Mass for Peace” and the Main Street Player’s mounting of Sande Cropsey’s “Who’s There?”

Neither could have happened without the support of the Georgia Council for the Arts.

Meanwhile, Chris Curry, Executive Director of Pike Historic Preservation, Inc., announced that the annual fall photo exhibition, “SlowExposures,” added over $30,000 to the economic viability of Pike County during its two week run. “Slow Exposures” was made possible in part by a generous grant from the GCA.

It is important to thank our state Senators and Representatives for their previous support of the arts in Griffin and at the same time make them aware of the urgent need to keep the GCA alive and well enough to continue their mission to support the arts throughout Georgia --- especially here in Griffin and the surrounding areas.

If you value the arts in Georgia, please contact your legislators and make them aware of the impact of the loss of GCA funds to your organization and to our state. Remember that investing in the arts pays off both in tax revenue, jobs and tourism --- it's one industry that is alive and well in spite of the overall economy.

With the help of the Georgia Council for the Arts, Griffin will continue to be a culturally vibrant town --- a perfect place to live and raise a family.

Joe McKaughan
Board Member
Main Street Players
Slow Exposures

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Plein Air Art Show and Sale at Callaway Gardens April 17

To benefit the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation, Callaway Gardens® is hosting a new and very unique Plein Air Art Show and Sale on Saturday, April 17, 2010, at 7 p.m.

While visiting art events in Laguna Beach, California, and meeting experts such as Jean Stern, director of the Irvine Museum, and other notable California artists, Edward Callaway was inspired to create something new at Callaway Gardens, an art event unlike any other in our region - a Plein Air Art Show and Sale. Plein Air, French for “open air,” is used to describe the act of painting outdoors.

“We have invited 24 notable plein air artists from across the United States to come here and capture the beauty of Spring,” said Callaway, chairman of the board for the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation, the non-profit parent organization that owns and operates Callaway Gardens. “The artists will arrive a week before the event and spend time painting the beauty they see at Callaway Garden as well as other public and private gardens in the region, including Columbus, LaGrange and Atlanta. These paintings will be submitted on Friday to be viewed and purchased Saturday night.”

In the early 19th century paint manufacturers made available, for the first time, pre-mixed oil pigments in easily carried tubes. Armed with an easily transferable medium, painters took their newly minted paint tubes and easels outdoors. The ability to paint directly from nature opened the door to the Impressionist movement and Barbizon school.

Impressionist artists were interested in the influence of changing outdoor light on a color. Painting real life and naturalistic scenes, they focused on form as color that suggested light. Leaving behind formulas and static scenes, these plein air painters tested out the theory of trusting their eyes to portray the truth in nature.

Building on the work of the realists and impressionists, modern plein air artists are experiencing a renaissance. Callaway Gardens is proud to partner with these artists as they draw their audience into a greater appreciation of the natural world. Invited artists include:

· Perry Austin, Goodwater, AL

· Jacobus Baas, Laguna Beach, CA

· Bucky Bowles, Fortson, GA

· Roger Dale Brown, Franklin, TN

· Geri Davis, Columbus, GA

· Dee Beard Dean, Davidson, NC

· Mary Erickson, Marshville, NC

· Jo Farris, Columbus, GA

· Suzanne Reed Fine, Columbus, GA

· Millie Gosch, Roswell, GA

· Erin Gregory, Columbus, GA

· John Lasater, Siloam Springs, AR

· Gloria Mani, Columbus, GA

· Diane C. May, Nashville, TN

· Richard Millman, Auburn, AL

· Larry Moore, Winter Park, FL

· Arlaine Morrison, Suwanee, GA

· Richard Oversmith, Asheville, NC

· Jill Chancey Philips, Columbus, GA

· Junko Ono Rothwell, Atlanta, GA

· Sally Stanley, Winnetka, IL

· Karen Stewart, Columbus, GA

· Jo Ann Williams Walker, Panama City, FL

· Bruno Zupan, Columbus, GA

Inside the beautiful Virginia Hand Callaway Discovery Center, guests will be able to enjoy and purchase the paintings while enjoying cocktails, camaraderie and fine cuisine prepared by Executive Chef Bill Justus. In support of Callaway Gardens’ commitment to sustainability, the menu will feature regionally grown and locally available items such as Callaway Gardens’ famous Speckled Heart™ grits with shrimp; wild mushroom ravioli, fried oysters with barbecue vinaigrette and more.

The first Plein Air Show and Sale, continues Callaway Gardens’ tradition of supporting the fine arts.

To attend the Plein Air Art Show and Sale at Callaway Gardens, please call 706-663-5047. Tickets are $150 per person, which can be applied in full to the purchase price of any artwork purchased the evening of April 17th. Cocktail attire is appropriate. For more detailed information or to view samples of the artists’ work, please visit

Callaway Gardens®, is in Pine Mountain, Ga., 60 minutes southwest of Atlanta and 30 minutes north of Columbus. For additional information, visit or call 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292).

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