Originally created 01/18/00

The best things in life can be cheap



Some children wiggled in their seats while others sat mesmerized as pianist Awadagin Pratt played.

Wearing a vibrant yellow shirt and flowing dreadlocks, the artist, as evidenced by an array of facial expressions, seemed to be experiencing the music rather than simply playing it.

Mr. Pratt was the featured performer in the Jan. 9 Publix Family Concert with the Augusta Symphony at the Grover C. Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre at Augusta State University.

The Publix concerts are among several reasonably priced family activities available in Augusta. Other budget-saving family fare includes story times at Augusta-area libraries and bookstores, reduced-priced admission to museums and museum-sponsored activities, and inexpensive theater outings.

Publix Family Concert tickets are $5 each, but you pay no more than $20 for admission of your entire family, regardless of size."Family concerts appeal to the entire family," said Sandra Sutton Self, executive director of the Augusta Symphony. "We want to build the community. To build the community, you have to build the family; and to build the family, they have to do things together."

And that doesn't mean just watching television together, she added.

Taking her children to quality events is important to Robinstine Stokes, but so is the price. "I'm the head of my household, so price does make a difference," said Ms. Stokes as she and daughters Chantre, 8, and Chantille, 12, stood in line to meet Mr. Pratt after the concert.

"We come to this all the time. We really enjoy it, and it's reasonably priced," she said.

The next Publix Family Concert will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 12, and will feature dancers from the Augusta Ballet in a collaboration with the symphony.

While there are only three Publix concerts a year, other family-centered cultural activities are held monthly or weekly. Many are inexpensive or free.

Each month, the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art, 506 Telfair St., is the site of a family workshop. "We try to create an atmosphere for a parent and child to spend quality time together," said Amy Meybohm, executive director at the Gertrude Herbert. "We've seen it bring together families. We have a lot of dads who come. It's good to see both parents."

Sometimes, the activities coincide with a holiday such as Mother's Day or Father's Day, and children make presents for their parents.

The next family workshop, the African-American Suitcase Show featuring Barbara and Alvin Franklin, will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 5. Families will make kites from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 18.

The cost is $5 for parents and one child, $1 for each additional child. Supplies for the art project are included in the price. For more information, call 722-5495.

The last Sunday of each month, Classical Kids meet at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 1336 Augusta West Parkway. The children participate in a visual-arts or musical project that is related to children's literature, said Mary Baker, community relations coordinator.

"The craft events really do well," she said.

Several times a year, a book character will make an appearance at a party-style event.

Numerous family activities are ongoing. Here is a sampling of some upcoming ones:

Storyland Theatre will present The Emperor's Nightingale at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30, at the Augusta State's Grover C. Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre, 2500 Walton Way. Tickets are $3.50 each at the door. Call 736-3455.

Artrageous Sundays at the Morris Museum of Art, 1 10th St. Admission to the Morris Museum is free each Sunday. At 2 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month an art-related project is presented. Children will make an African instrument and perform with drummers on Feb. 6. Call 724-7501.

Admission to the Augusta-Richmond County Museum, 560 Reynolds St., is half-price on Sundays. Regular admission is $4 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and $2 for children between the ages of 6 and 18. Call 722-5495.

Borders Books & Music, 257 Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway, will sponsor kids' activity time at 1 p.m. Saturday. Cats and kittens will be spotlighted in the craft. Call 737-6962.

Public libraries feature free story times for young children at various times during the week. Call 821-2600.