Arts in the Heart to start with green theme

Patrons at this year's Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival will probably notice the switch from a featured ethnic group to a "going green" theme.

"We asked a lot of the newer groups, groups that had never been featured, if they were interested," said Brenda Durant, the executive director of the Greater Augusta Arts Council, the festival's presenting agency. "They just didn't feel like they were ready yet. So we decided to take a little break and try this."

Green initiatives will include a focus on recycling, a ban on foam cups and containers, and the use of environmentally friendly products wherever possible.

"We've found that a green theme fits in really well with an arts festival," Ms. Durant said. "And we did want to make sure we weren't leaving a terrible mark. We've been very fortunate, because it is something the groups in the Global Village have really embraced."

All the products will break down quicker in landfills, be recyclable or be produced from recycled materials.

Another change is having popular folk/rock performer Shawn Mullins appear with Augusta artist Patrick Blanchard in a concert Saturday evening after The Augusta Chronicle Singer-Songwriter Competition. The Mullins performance was made possible by a $6,500 Westobou grant by the Porter Fleming Foundation.

"We're hoping to see a surge in attendance for that," Ms. Durant said. "If we do, this might be something we can do again."

Arts in the Heart will feature about 150 fine arts and crafts vendors, about twice as many as last year, Ms. Durant said.

"It wasn't planned. We did what we always do. But that's a chatty community and we have always tried to treat the artists well. The word must have just gotten out."

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626, or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival

WHEN: 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, noon to 7 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Augusta Common

COST: $5 in advance, $7 at the gate; badges available at SRP Federal Credit Union branches; artsintheheart.com