Leaders discuss economic benefits of the arts in Augusta

Chrissy Marlowe leads a forum for the Georgia Council for the Arts at the Morris Museum of Art, one of seven held across the state to formulate a strategic plan.

Leaders of Augusta arts organizations met Tuesday for a community forum with the Georgia Council for the Arts to begin formulating a five-year strategic plan as funding for the arts begins to recover from drastic cuts.


Mayor Deke Copenhaver began the meeting by emphasizing the role of arts in economic development.

“We need to look at them from an economic perspective,” he said. “Through festivals like Westobou and Arts in the Heart, they bring in revenues year-round to the community.”

The Georgia Council of the Arts was moved under the state’s Department of Economic Development six months ago by Gov. Nathan Deal. The move put the arts council in a unique position to influence tourism and state marketing, Director Karen Paty said.

Deal kicked off a series of seven forums across the state in October, with the fourth held in Augusta. The strategic plan will help the council decide which programs to re-establish after many were put on a hiatus because of staff and funding shortfalls.

The council operates on a $1 million budget, Paty said. A key goal of the strategic plan will be developing a new method for grant applications and distribution.

Brenda Durant, the executive director of the Greater Augusta Arts Council, said some Augusta arts groups that offer similar programming could be consolidated in the future. Additional focus will be on marketing, especially to a younger audience.

Organizations represented Tuesday were the Imperial Theatre, Symphony Orchestra Augusta, the Richmond County Board of Education fine arts department, the CSRA African-American Arts Alliance and the Washington, Ga., fine arts council.



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