Artist works to revive, promote Augusta's talent

An aspiring scriptwriter himself, Anthony Page wants a day to come when artists can earn a living in Augusta without waiting tables or mowing lawns.

He's doing his own part, using a Web site and a Yahoo e-mail account, to make it happen faster.

Mr. Page, formerly the director of marketing and special programs for the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, started his Augusta Renaissance project about two years ago. It's a network of professionals and artists with no dues, meetings, committees, president or even a membership list, but rather tied together through Mr. Page's monthly e-newsletter.

Mr. Page said about 2,500 people are on his e-mail list. Both the newsletter and AugustaRenaissance.com are essentially well-polished event listings, giving information on happenings ranging from Westobou festival venues to smaller, less-publicized offerings.

In recent months he's promoted jazz concerts, comedy shows, poetry readings, art exhibits, yoga classes, a motorcycle rally, a book signing, a basketball tournament, a ghost story contest and a massage special, among other things. Mr. Page, 37, said he gives preference to fledgling groups and artists who don't have public relations representatives and might have a hard time getting mention in the newspapers.

"Sometimes, these guys and girls are very new, and they don't know that stuff and they don't know how to construct a press release," he said. "Sometimes, because of the volume, there's not enough room in the paper."

Augusta Renaissance also hosts meet-and-greet and mixer parties, such as The Butterfly Effect during Masters Week, a season premiere party for the television show College Daze, and the 2nd Annual Salute to Sister CEOs of the CSRA slated for December.

Mr. Page said he's trying to match artists with audiences, entrepreneurs with clients, because the vitality of the arts scene is tied to the city's economic health.

"I think it kind of goes to the divide," he said. "I'm trying to increase the interface."

The launching of Augusta Renaissance followed what he calls the lowest point in his life. In 2006, he organized an art exhibit for the James Brown Soul of America Music Festival. On the final day of it, he was arrested at the Adams Super Inn on Gordon Highway, accused of having more than 200 stolen money orders.

The charge was later dropped and he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge, resulting in probation, a fine and community service. Mr. Page said he got serious about spirituality during the ordeal.

"In pursuing religion, I kind of found what I'm supposed to be doing," he said.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

ANTHONY PAGE

OCCUPATION/ACTIVITIES: Freelancer in marketing, public relations and brand development. Writing a screenplay about black secret societies and a play about teens' experiences in Richmond County schools. Developing a theatre troupe called Blue Bistro Theater. Founder of the Augusta Renaissance initiative, which is online at AugustaRenaissance.com. (The project is not to be confused with Augusta Renaissance Partners LLC, a redevelopment company whose partners include Clay and Braye Boardman.)

FAMILY: Daughter, Denise Couba, 20; son, Prentice Freeman, 20

QUOTE: On his Augusta Renaissance project: "It's embracing the idea that there's a renaissance happening in Augusta. There's a renewal. It's economic, cultural, social."

CONTACT: To submit an event listing or subscribe to his e-newsletter, contact Mr. Page at 404-786-3277 or anthonyrpage@yahoo.com.