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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