Annual grants to fund arts, history projects

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The legacy of Augusta author Berry Fleming continues to support the arts and history in Augusta with this year’s award of Porter Fleming Foundation grants.

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Bowdre Phinizy Mays speaks after receiving a grant from the Porter Fleming Foundation to help fund a book he is writing about Augusta.   CHRIS THELEN/STAFF
CHRIS THELEN/STAFF
Bowdre Phinizy Mays speaks after receiving a grant from the Porter Fleming Foundation to help fund a book he is writing about Augusta.

Administered by the trustees of the Academy of Richmond County, the 2012 grants will fund the oral history portion of a reprint of Edward Cashin’s 1980 classic, The Story of Augusta; a ballet performance of Peter Pan that will benefit restoration work at the Imperial Theatre; the book portion of a World War II veterans history project; this year’s Westobou Festival; and other initiatives.

The foundation decided against releasing the specific amount each group was awarded this year. Last year, the group gave out $249,000. Cobb Nixon, the chairman of the foundation established by Fleming in honor of his father, said that “over the past five years, we’ve given more than $2.5 million for the cultural enjoyment of Augusta, thanks to Berry Fleming.”

Nixon reflected that Fleming’s writing and activism “energized Augusta in the late 1940s.”

Fleming will help continue the pursuit of Augusta’s history with the foundation’s award to Augusta State University Center for the Study of Georgia History, where director Lee Ann Caldwell will use the money for an oral history supplement to a reprint of The Story of Augusta, for which Caldwell is writing several new chapters that pick up where the book left off in 1980.

On receiving the grant Thursday, Caldwell said she’d been reading 30 years’ worth of Augusta City Council minutes for the addition, while videographer Mark Albertin is interviewing 30-50 Augusta leaders of the past 30 years for the oral history.

Also awarded was an upcoming Columbia County Ballet production of Peter Pan, with net revenues from the ballet to go to Imperial Community Theatre Inc.’s capital campaign for $250,000 to match the theater’s $1 million sales tax allocation, theater Executive Director Charles Scavullo said.

The foundation gave checks to Augusta State University’s music department, Harry Jacobs Chamber Music Society, an Augusta-area World War II veterans history project, the Porter Fleming Literary Competition administered by the Morris Museum of Art, Westobou Festival organizers, and Augusta native Bowdre Phinizy Mays, who is writing a book about Augusta.

“Based on my research and knowledge of Augusta all my life, I think I’ve found some rather fertile fields to plunder,” Mays said.

Westobou will be only five days this year, starting Oct. 3, but its offerings will feature a day each of visual arts, music, film, dance and words, said Executive Director Molly McDowell.


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