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Festival of the Arts begins
Runs through May 15 at Cumming First UMC
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Forsyth County News

At a glance
Cumming First United Methodist Church’s annual community Festival of Arts includes:

* Open daily from noon to 8 p.m. through May 15 at the church, 770 Canton Hwy.

* Sunday: "Mother's Day Bouquet" -- Janet and Amy Pummill, mother and daughter musicians, 3 p.m., free
* Wednesday: "Rising Stars" Competition, classically trained young musicians in performance, 7 p.m., free
* Saturday:  North Georgia Symphony in performance, 8 p.m., $10

Bach’s Lunch Series
* Free, 30-minute concerts Monday-Friday. They begin at noon, followed by an optional $5 lunch in the Art Café.

Art and music will fill the church sanctuary at Cumming First United Methodist Church for the next week.

The church’s fourth annual community Festival of Arts begins today with the opening of the art gallery, which features about 300 professional works of art and nearly 400 local student pieces.

“This is the largest participation we’ve had yet,” said John Hutchinson, the church’s art director. He added the show also boasts a variety of media and genres of work.

“The artists who have come in so far have said this is by far the highest quality, most diverse show that we’ve had, which makes it one of the best in the region,” he said.

Many of the professional pieces, which come from both local and national artists, will be on sale, ranging in price from about $40 to $6,000, Hutchinson said.

Student artists and teachers in local schools look forward to the event, said Kevin Whitley, an art teacher at Forsyth Central High.

The students enjoy having a festival where they can showcase their work, Whitley said.

It also gives them an opportunity within their grade divisions to win awards and scholarship money.

“It’s some really phenomenal stuff,” he said of the student work. “I strongly encourage the community and the public to come and see what their kids are doing."

The festival will also feature musical performances in the church sanctuary.

On weekdays, the church will also hold its Bach’s Lunch Series. Each day features a half-hour concert at noon, followed by an optional $5 lunch.

Some weekend and evening music programming will also take place, beginning with a Mother’s Day performance this afternoon.

Wednesday, eight classically trained young musicians, including two from Forsyth County, will play in the “Rising Stars” competition for prizes.

The music performances will wrap up on Saturday with the North Georgia Symphony, which will conclude with the piece “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

The symphony tickets are $10 each, but all other events, including the gallery, are free.

Hutchinson said the event will remind the community of the importance of the arts.

“We want people to remember the beauty of creativity and understand that that’s a God-given gift to each and every one of us, if not to do, then to enjoy,” he said.