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Grateful for grants
11 arts groups receive funding from alliance
Art Alliance Donates 5 es
Brett Berto and Robbie Hamrick give a check to John Hutchinson for Cumming First United Methodist for its Festival of the Arts during the Forsyth County Arts Alliance grant luncheon Thursday at Tam’s Backstage. - photo by Emily Saunders
2010 grant recipients

• Cumming First United Methodist Church Festival of Arts — $10,000
• Forsyth County Parks and Recreation — $10,000
• Concert in the Quarry — $10,000
• North Georgia College and State University — $5,000
• Northside Hospital-Forsyth Auxiliary — $4,000
• Sawnee Artists Association — $2,500
• Forsyth Central HS Drama Department — $2,000
• North Georgia College & State University — $2,000
• Jesse’s House — $2,000
• Whitlow ES Arts Department — $1,500
• Sawnee Woman’s Club — $1,000

Source: Forsyth County Arts Alliance

Area artistic groups gathered Thursday as the Forsyth County Arts Alliance awarded $50,000 in grant funding.

Groups ranging from the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department to Forsyth Central High School’s drama program were invited to the celebration.  

“It’s just great for the community,” Brett Berto, president of the alliance, said. “Especially in a time when across the board arts budgets are getting cut.”

Berto told the gathering at Tam’s Backstage restaurant in Cumming that the alliance was not able to provide grants last year because of the difficult economic times.

This year, however, 11 local groups received grants for projects ranging from arts festivals to artistic programs for county youth.

“We are so excited and so grateful,” said Cindy Boff, who represented the Sawnee Women’s Club. “The funding they provide for all these different organizations just make this a richer community.”

Sawnee Women’s Club plans to use the grant to fund its Culture for Kids Program, which takes under-privileged youth to artistic performances across the area.

Northside Hospital-Forsyth received a grant to fund its “Healing Sounds” Program, which will provide musical performances throughout the hospital.

“Without this grant, it would have been very difficult to introduce this program,” said Gloria Wyatt, director of volunteer services for the hospital.
“It will be impact thousands of people ... anyone who comes into our hospital will be impacted by this program.”

Berto said the grants will not only benefit the organizations but the entire community.

“We hope that these funds will be taken and help individuals, organizations and the community overall by building a greater arts presence in Forsyth County,” Berto said.

As neighboring counties mull plans to limit funding for art programs in the schools as well as the community, the luncheon served as a beacon of hope that the arts will continue to grow in Forsyth.

“This means survival,” Yatsey Harvey said. “This grant gives us the finances to do that.”

Harvey, the theater director at Central, said she will use the grant for an annual show that provides musical theater for children across the school system.

No matter what the source, Berto said watching the arts thrive across Forsyth has been a rewarding experience.

“To continue to watch the arts community in this county grow and flourish has just been worth every minute spent on this board,” Berto said.