Originally created 02/20/00

Performing Arts Center considered for county funding



Like the heroine in a slasher movie, just when the proposed Augusta Performing Arts Center is dead, it comes back for another round. It seems the center, which would include a 2,000-seat multipurpose theater, has wiggled its way onto the list of projects under consideration for county funds.

Now the fate of the facility lies in the hands of voters. Whether the project gets the $150,000 needed for preliminary planning depends on voters extending the 1-cent special-purpose sales tax for a fourth time.

Also included on the list of projects is $1.3 million for repairs and restoration to the historic Imperial Theatre. The last of the great Broad Street vaudeville houses, the Imperial, while still in use, desperately requires attention.

The arts center would fill a void left by existing Augusta venues. Bell Auditorium, with a capacity of nearly 3,000 seats, is often difficult to fill and has a reputation for less than stellar acoustics, making it an undesirable home for musical performances. The Imperial, while blessed with more favorable sound conditions, seats only 835 -- too small for many large touring shows. The proposed 2,000-seat arts center theater would combine the strengths of the two venues and leave them open to events for which they are better suited.

VERSE-ATILITY WANTED -- Adolescent wordsmiths may want to enter the Power to Express contest.

Sponsored by the Gelly Roll art company, LaFace Records and Seventeen magazine, the contest gives kids age 12 and older a chance to express themselves.

Finalists will receive a Gelly Roll Power to Express T-shirt, journals and metallic pens, as well as a Pink CD and poster. They will also have their submissions published in Seventeen magazine.

The winning submission will be put to music and recorded by LaFace recording artist Pink, and the writer will win a trip to see Pink in concert this summer. The package includes airfare, accommodations, limousine transportation and meals.

Submissions should be sent to Gelly Roll Power to Express c/o Seventeen, 850 Third Ave., ninth floor, New York, NY 10022. All entries should include a name, address, daytime phone number and date of birth.

REINVENTING THE LANDSCAPE -- Augusta artist Ben Harper will have his work displayed as part of the Topophilia show being presented at the Clayton Street Gallery in Athens, Ga. The show is built around new takes on an old standard in the art world -- the landscape.

"The exhibition itself is an exploration of different artists' perspectives of what landscape is," said exhibition director Jennifer A. Schultz. "This art is a real personal approach to landscape and how artists are affected by it."

Mr. Harper's minimalistic canvases represent the effect of place on a person more than the place itself.

"They're really about the meditative experience -- about how people can sit by the ocean and stare for hours," he explained. "They're about self-awareness and the things and places we hold in our memories."

The inclusion of Mr. Harper's work was a matter of fortuitous timing.

"In the case of Ben Harper, he came to me about a show, and his work seemed to fit well with what we wanted to do," Ms. Schultz said. "He really just came along at the right time."

The exhibition runs through Feb. 29.

Steven Uhles covers arts and entertainment for The Augusta Chronicle.