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Festival of Arts begins
Galleries, concerts all week at church
Kevin Whitley helps set up for the Cumming First United Methodist Church Festival of Arts, which runs through April 29. - photo by Autumn Vetter

At a glance

Cumming First United Methodist’s Festival of Arts begins at noon today and continues through 8 p.m. April 29 with various art galleries, concerts and a student film festival. Most activities are free, with some $5 or $10. For a complete schedule, visit

Forsyth County’s largest art event kicks off today.

Now in its fifth year, the Cumming First United Methodist Church Festival of Arts begins at noon and ends at 8 p.m. April 29.

John Hutchinson, the church’s director of arts and music, said the week’s activities include daily art galleries, lunchtime and evening concerts, and a new student film festival, all of which are open to the public.

“A few of the events cost, but not much,” he said. “The student film festival is $5 and our closing concert is $10.”

Daily lunchtime concerts, called Bach’s Lunch, will be offered Monday-Friday. The concerts are free, and lunch can be purchased for $5.

Hutchinson said more than 200 professional artists from Georgia, Florida and North and South Carolina will display their work in the festival’s galleries.

“We have a new record in the number of artists,” he said. “We’ll have about 350 pieces of artwork on display in the professional show.”

There will also be more than 200 pieces of student artwork on display from nearly all of Forsyth County’s public elementary, middle and high schools.

Tuesday night’s student film festival will feature four short films created by students from three of the local public high schools.

Hutchinson said the films range from five to 15 minutes in length.

“So the whole presentation will be about an hour,” he said, noting the film event will begin at 7 p.m. at the AMC Avenue Forsyth 12 in south Forsyth.

Tickets are $5 and can be purchased in advance at the church or at the door.

“We’re hoping the student film festival will continue to grow from year to year just like the arts portion has,” Hutchinson said.

All other events will be held at the church on Canton Highway.

Another “must-see” part of the week will be the closing concert at 7:30 p.m. April 28 by the North Georgia Symphony.

“They’ll be presenting ‘The Planets,’ which is a tour de force piece with everything but the kitchen sink musically speaking,” he said.

The Rising Starts Concert at 7 p.m. April 25 will also be a highlight, Hutchinson said.

“That is not to be missed,” he said. “These are all world-class, young musicians from Forsyth and other metro Atlanta counties.”

Hutchinson said he and “easily 200 volunteers” work to set up, oversee and take down the festival each year.

About “99 percent” of them are First UMC members, he said, while a few Sawnee Artists Association members also help.

Hutchinson and the volunteers view the festival as “their gift to the community.”

“Historically the church has been the center of a town’s life,” he said. “We look at this as an opportunity to be the center of life, not just the spiritual life, but the terrestrial life as well.

“Life is full of beauty and we want to share that with people.”