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Cumming's new home for art: Local association takes up residence in historic downtown home
Cumming City Councilmember Linda Ledbetter, from left, Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow and others joined the Sawnee Association of the Arts on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. - photo by Brian Paglia

Downtown Cumming has a new home for art.

On Friday morning, the Sawnee Association of the Arts held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in recognition of its new lease of the historic Brannon-Heard House.

Members of the association and a few community leaders, including Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow, Forsyth County Board of Education Chairwoman Ann Crow and Cumming City Councilmember Linda Ledbetter, came together to explore the group’s new permanent space.

“It’s absolutely phenomenal,” said Kris Weeden, co-chair of the association. “We just love this place. And we just pray that it’s going to work for us and hope that the community will spread the word around about us as often as possible, send their family here, come and visit, and enjoy the art, because art brings us together.”

Over the past few years, the SAA had become more acquainted with the Brannon-Heard House at 111 Pilgrim Mill Road that sits across the street from The Cumming Playhouse. The organization had rented the turn-of-the-century home from time to time to hold a few art classes and events, and they’ve recently become a fixture in the space during the city’s new Food Truck Fridays events.

The group grew fond of the home’s layout and location just off the downtown square. Weeden said discussions about leasing the building began in May, and the city voted to give the SAA the lease in June. The association started moving in soon after.

The association hopes it’s created a new arts center to the downtown scene. Downstairs is a gallery, gift shop and kitchen, which will serve coffee to the community on Fridays. Upstairs is studio space for classes.

“We want to see downtown become a beautiful downtown like many of the other cities in our surrounding communities,” Weeden said.

The association already has plans for future events and classes, particularly a new free series offered to city and county employees on Tuesday until October 31.

There was already one interested patron at Friday’s event.

“I may try it,” Brumbalow said. “I’m going to take a lot of work to produce something that’s appealing to somebody else. My daughter’s an amazing artist. But my wife and I both, we can draw a stick person, that’s about it. I don’t know where she got it from. And she’s excited about taking some classes. I’ll probably try it.”