Athens may lure Music Hall of Fame from Macon

ATHENS, Ga. -- The Classic Center, the new University of Georgia special collections library and other sites could display Georgia Music Hall of Fame exhibits if the hall moves to Athens, according to the people working to lure the museum away from Macon.


 Without a ready-made facility, local officials are considering splitting up the museum's exhibits among multiple sites if an Athens group wins the hall next year.

"We're looking at a lot of different options here," Athens-Clarke Economic Development Foundation President Matt Forshee said.

The artifacts would be housed at the temporary sites for two to three years until a permanent home is found. The special collections library under construction on Baxter Street would store and curate much of the collection.

The team that is recruiting the hall to Athens - headed up by developer Ed Nichols and including representatives from UGA, the EDF and the music industry - asked the Classic Center Authority to display some items. Authority members said Tuesday they are not sure they have enough space or proper security.

Classic Center officials suggested the Morton Theatre and Lyndon House Arts Center as other possibilities. The hall recruitment committee also is looking at the music-themed Hotel Indigo and other public or semi-public facilities, Forshee said.

Local officials will decide whether to bid and finalize the details of their proposal late next week, Forshee said.

Athens-Clarke County and other communities have until Dec. 10 to submit bids for the state's sports and music halls of fame, both in Macon. A request for proposals the halls released in September calls for a minimum of 10,000 square feet of space.

The hall's collection includes almost 30,000 artifacts, such as records, tapes, films, photographs, sheet music, costumes and instruments, according to the request for proposals. It is housed now in a 43,000-square-foot building built in 1996 and expanded in 1999.

Macon is bidding to keep both halls. The Macon City Council approved a $500,000 subsidy over the next three years, and the Bibb County Commission is scheduled to consider a similar contribution Tuesday.

The Athens-Clarke team, though, is unlikely to propose spending much tax money, if any, on the music hall of fame, Forshee said.

"Our goal is to do it in a way that the public isn't on the hook for anything," he said. "It needs to stand on its own."

Other communities that could bid include Albany, Dahlonega, Woodstock and Dunwoody. Those cities sent groups to a mandatory music hall of fame tour in October.

Both halls have struggled financially in Macon, and state lawmakers are allowing other cities to bid on them as they seek to end their state subsidies. The halls' boards of directors must decide by April 30 whether to stay in Macon or where to move.



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