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Groups grateful for grants

Community hailed for its support

POSTED: July 21, 2013 12:25 a.m.
Jennifer Sami/

Kristan Riedinger, from left, Linda Ray and Lisa Fletcher visit before the annual Forsyth County Arts Alliance luncheon Thursday.

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Turnout was high for Thursday’s annual Forsyth County Arts Alliance luncheon.

That didn’t go unnoticed by Kevin Tallant, president of the alliance’s board, who said it’s a sign of the community’s growing support for the arts.

“It is heartwarming to see that so many people in this area are concerned about and are excited about the arts,” he said.

Also excited were the representatives of 10 organizations that received grants from the alliance during the luncheon.

“I was just thrilled,” said Beth Sale, gallery director for the University of North Georgia.

The gallery received an $8,000 grant from the alliance to bring artwork to the university’s Cumming branch.

“The University of North Georgia has a campus in Cumming, but we don’t have an art gallery and all the other campuses do,” Sale said. “As a gallery director, that’s something I’m trying to change.

“It’s going to make possible an entire new portfolio of prints and ... a workshop and artist lectures in Cumming.”

Forsyth County’s library system received a grant for $2,500 to fund a historical collage that will also be housed at its Cumming branch. The system received a grant last year for artwork at the Post Road branch, said Jon McDaniel, director.

“We’re going to try to do more historic artwork at all the branches,” he said. “Without the grant, we could have done something, but not on this scale.”

The grants began in 2008, about three years after the alliance was founded following the sale of the Sawnee Cultural Arts Center to the county.

The money from the sale was placed in an endowment. While that money hasn’t been moved, the alliance uses the interest earned to fund the grants. 

Tallant noted a change this year, as the alliance has taken more of a proactive approach, including expanding to focus on literary arts.

The end result is a project with the local library system that will bring Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg to Forsyth in September to address the community.

Bragg's 1998 book "All Over But the Shoutin'" has been selected for this year's Forsyth Reads Together, a program that unites the community with literature.

“This was a big step for us. We had always been a very reactionary organization,” Tallant said. “We want to do bigger and better things and we are focused as an organization on making sure that we raise the money now and in the future so that we can continue to grow and have a bigger impact on arts in our community.”

This year, several Forsyth County schools received grant money, as did the North Georgia Symphony Orchestra, the Forsyth Youth Orchestra’s summer orchestral program and the Sawnee Artists Association.

Since 2008, more than $260,000 has been awarded through the grant program.

“It is a lot of fun, I will tell you on a personal basis, to look at all the things we’ve been able to fund over the years,” Tallant said. “Every board member here shares that with me and think that we were able to somehow impact the lives of citizens in this community by being a part of the FCAA and helping fund these grants.”

After announcing the grant winners, alliance board member Lynn Jackson said she hopes this year’s selections inspire future recipients.

“Art truly changes the way we look at the world,” she said. “I hope that some of this will stimulate you to think about new projects and new things that we can do to make sure that the arts thrive and succeed in our community and that artists feel supported.”


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