Arena makes push for Brown exhibit

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To be a big-league music venue, the James Brown Arena needs to have more to do with its namesake than just a plastic sign and a plaque, Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority member Johnny Hensley says.

He floated several ideas to sell tickets at Thursday's meeting of the Marketing, Entertainment & Public Relations Committee, which he chairs. Among the suggestions include holding a James Brown impersonator contest, putting some of his memorabilia on display and consistently invoking the name of Soul Brother No. 1 to bring in top artists.

At the meeting, he suggested moving to the arena the Augusta Museum of History's James Brown exhibit after it closes. The arena could charge admission to tourists, he said, and authority member William Fennoy suggested selling Mr. Brown's CDs.

But the museum won't be ready to give up its display soon, maybe never, Director Nancy Glaser said.

The museum has seen a 40 percent increase in traffic, much of it out-of-town visitors, since opening the exhibit in May, she said. It has eight of Mr. Brown's suits, his Bibles, posters, vinyl records and items left at the singer's Broad Street statue after his 2006 death.

Ms. Glaser said Mr. Brown's estate and some of his family members, friends and band mates loaned the items under arrangements that are renewable each year. The exhibit is scheduled to last at least until May 2011, she said.

"I'm hoping it will go on much, much longer," Ms. Glaser said.

Told of her comments, Mr. Hensley said his fall-back plan is to seek help from Mr. Brown's children and try to create another exhibit from scratch.

An entertainer himself who was lead singer of Johnny Hensley and the Red Hots before working in promotions and now real estate with RE/MAX of Augusta, Mr. Hensley is in his second month on the authority. He was appointed by Commissioner Jimmy Smith to replace Freddie Sanders. Mr. Hensley said the strength of Mr. Brown's name should be used to recruit big-name artists.

"I'm going to do everything in my power to get shows back into Augusta," he said.

He suggested ads in newspapers in cities where entertainers live, such as Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Nashville and Atlanta, saying "the James Brown Arena wants you," and asking them what it will take to bring them to Augusta.

"Some of these artists, I've got to believe, will say, 'This is interesting,' " Mr. Hensley said.

Arena and Bell Auditorium marketing director Kayla Ott, an employee of management company Global Spectrum, said booking decisions are made not by artists, but their agents.

"I think the main thing we need to show them is that we can sell tickets," she said.

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

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Tujeez
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Tujeez 11/21/08 - 02:04 am
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I have an idea, sell tickets

I have an idea, sell tickets and have Fennoy and Merry go all out in the ring. That ought to bring in a crowd. You could put the Authority Meetings on Pay Per View and throw Woody Merry in there to liven things up a bit. If those don't work, maybe you could have a number of charity events to bring in some smaller acts and raise awareness to some "needy" causes.

GACopperhead
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GACopperhead 11/21/08 - 02:55 am
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Ditch the incompetent,

Ditch the incompetent, imbecilic authority! Close the coliseum and save the expense. Augusta doesn't support anything.

SCGAL53
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SCGAL53 11/21/08 - 06:02 am
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Yeah and moving it would cost

Yeah and moving it would cost us more electricity at the monstor arena. Leave it where it is.

white_trash
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white_trash 11/21/08 - 06:06 am
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Here is an idea, book acts

Here is an idea, book acts people want to see, the publicize the event so folks know its comming.

godogs
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godogs 11/21/08 - 08:22 am
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This whole thing needs to be

This whole thing needs to be put on the back burrner for right now. We have more important things to worry about at this time like keeping people employeed locally and feeding those living on the streets. Why don't they do something in Mr. Brown's honor to raise money for the Golden Harvest Food bank since Mr. Brown gave Turkey's away, apparently he had a desire to help the needy. Do this in his honor. Do something good for the community right now. Mr. Brown's exhibit can wait for a period of time, people going hungry can't. I think Mr. Brown would agree with this if he were here. I personnaly didn't care for Mr. Brown's giveaways in Augusta as he lived here in Beech Island and let me make you aware we have over a 60% poverty rate in our community according to our local schools statistics in Beech Island and he did nothing to help those in his own neighborhood, but that being said, let's look to get help for the now needy across the CSRA.

PLAYLIKETHUNDER4
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PLAYLIKETHUNDER4 11/21/08 - 09:13 am
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i have known johnny hensley

i have known johnny hensley for years, had the pleasure of sitting in with him on a couple of gigs....he knows what he's talking about. listen to him, and do this thing right.
as far as the comments about unemployment ,feeding people , etc., these issues are not related, they are all stand alone issues that must be dealt with one on one.

BChavo
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BChavo 11/21/08 - 11:17 am
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First of all James Brown

First of all James Brown never payed for the turkeys or the toys he gave away. They were donated by people and stores. You have tobe a wife beater and druggie and you willreceive fameand fortune by your namealone.Iwill never be a part of anything to do with anything associated with him.

GuyIncognito
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GuyIncognito 11/21/08 - 11:44 am
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Poor James Brown. Just wait

Poor James Brown. Just wait until Spike Lee makes his movie about James Brown (starring Wesley Snipes as James Brown), then we'll be sorry we don't have a James Brown museum.

godogs
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godogs 11/21/08 - 01:09 pm
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Well I hope the movie shows

Well I hope the movie shows all of the truth about kids all over the country and running from the cops, wife beating, drug abuse, giving away turkeys and gifts in a community he doesn't even live in but passing right by the poor he lived down the street from. Let's tell the whole life story! I am not saying he didn't accomplish good for himself, he did and that is what makes me sick and sad. God gave him talent and he abused it by his behavior and ethics. People don't know how to be thankful for what they have been given and blessed with and use it for good, they abuse it.

4centsworth
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4centsworth 11/21/08 - 06:05 pm
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The scary part of this story

The scary part of this story is the head of the marketing committee for the JB Arena thinks that running newspaper ads in LA and NY will result in artist wanting to play Augusta. If this were 1955, that might work. Today the artists that read, don't read the newspapers. Especially ads in the newspaper.

James Brown is a powerful name in the music business. This is an asset that does need to be leveraged to the fullest. However, the commission should go and let the pros do the marketing.

No_Longer_Amazed
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No_Longer_Amazed 11/21/08 - 09:01 pm
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Arena and Bell Auditorium

Arena and Bell Auditorium marketing director Kayla Ott said "I think the main thing we need to show them is that we can sell tickets." There is a January Chinese New Year Spectacular at the Bell Auditorium on the JBA&BA web site, but the tickets are not offered yet. So I have 2 tickets @ $168 each and will drive to ATLANTA to see this show in December. Actuall it might be a smart move as most probably the Augusta booking will be cancelled due to a lack of ticket sales like some previous events!

corgimom
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corgimom 11/22/08 - 03:21 pm
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Touring is so expensive that

Touring is so expensive that 4,000 seat venues are for artists on the D-list, and no one wants to pay to see that. James Brown couldn't even fill the arena when he was alive, why would anyone think that naming the arena after him will fill it now?

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