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Area arts group driven, despite funding drama
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Nearly $900,000 has been restored to support the Georgia Council for the Arts in the 2011 state budget passed by the Senate, giving the state a renewed chance to pursue federal support for the arts. At the local level, however, a twofold challenge remains: find the funds to provide arts opportunities and the manpower to develop and produce the ideas behind those opportunities.
Leah Poole, an active participant in the Hinesville Area Arts Council, said in years past the group has received funds from grassroots arts programs in Georgia — Poole herself wrote proposals that garnered funding — a revival of core individuals interested in sharing arts with Liberty County has only just begun.
“We are going to have to try and find some local support,” Poole said, particularly given the uncertainty of state funding opportunities for organizations like HAAC.  Though the state council was saved, as much as $1.7 million in state grants to local arts and cultural groups has been eliminated.
Poole said as much as funds are needed, more pressing is the need for volunteers who will both serve at events and on committees to help develop ideas for ongoing arts presentations and activities.
“We can’t do anything without local help,” she said, “not just with money but with people who want to plan things; people with new ideas.”
Donald Lovette, a local arts proponent who has staged several plays for the community and whose work has been supported by HAAC, said when he first read of the state’s move to cut funding, “my heart went out [to the arts community]. I’m a firm believer that the arts are a vital part of what makes society tick.”
Local artist Christina Mansfield, a Hinesville Area Arts Council board affiliate, said she also hoped the government would reconsider the cuts, which she thinks would hurt not only artists, but entire communities. “Art is vital because it creates stimulation both mentally and physically. I find it healthy both in mental hospitals I’ve worked in, public schools and the general public,” Mansfield said. “The arts council has encouraged art and introduced it for participation, interaction and entertainment.”
Poole said since HAAC has kicked off its renewed effort, she’s seen a resurgence in community interest in the arts. The council tries to reach out to as many varied interests as possible: case in point, on Saturday the group co-sponsored Tapas and Tunes at Yellow Bluff Clubhouse, and soon they will host an exhibit featuring all things Barbie.
“We’re trying to find interesting things for people to see and do,” she said. “We can’t do it without help, though.”
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