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Arts Association acquires new execs

CONYERS - Longtime artistic director for the Arts Association in Newton County will now be pulling double duty. He has assumed the same position with the Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts. Chiapetta took on the post simultaneously with the organization's new Executive Director Malik Hardwick. Both men have hit the ground running and are full of plans to enhance and build upon the foundation of Rockdale's artistic heritage.

Chiapetta will be responsible for the booking of all acts and planning the arts council's season, which kicks off Aug. 2 with the East Coast Band performing during the Olde Town Beach Party. Chiapetta said he hopes to bring about 15 concerts a year to Rockdale County.

"I am hoping to be able to bring in more nationally known acts to Conyers," he said. "We have, in the past, relied on regional artists, and while I don't want to stop supporting them, we will have a wider mix."

Chiapetta, who has been with the Newton County association for eight years, has dedicated his professional life to performing and promoting the arts. He received his education from the Crane School of Music at the State University College in Potsdam, N.Y., and the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Chiapetta has appeared in more than 65 roles in opera and musical theater in a wide array of venues, including the Glimmerglass Opera, Wolftrap, Boston Concert Opera, Washington Opera, Baltimore Opera and the Hills Center in Sydney, Australia.

From 1993 to 1998, Chiapetta directed the opera department at Towson University in Baltimore and started his own opera company, Opera To Go.

He moved in 1998 to Conyers, where he owns his own voice studio. He also serves as a soloist and director of music at First Christian Science Church in Decatur. In his capacity with the Arts Association in Newton County, Chiapetta oversees the entire concert series and serves as technical director and designer for the in-house productions. Chiapetta lives in Olde Town Conyers with his wife, Karen, and 3-year-old son, Miguel.

Hardwick and Chiapetta share the goal of increasing participation in the arts council. Hardwick pointed out that Rockdale County's population is more than 80,000, but less than 1,400 people currently are actively and consistently involved with the CRCA.

"We will try to increase that by using our skills and experience and by providing a reciprocal relationship," Hardwick said.

Hardwick will also be responsible for keeping the administrative functions of the arts council running efficiently and smoothly.

"But most importantly, I am responsible for moving the organization forward monetarily and making sure we adhere to and advance the vision and principles on which the organization was founded," Hardwick said.

The first thing Hardwick said he is working toward is expanding and enhancing the value of membership.

"I want to provide a benefit beyond simply the entertainment and programs that we offer, but to actually provide benefits for every membership level," he said.

For example, donors - whether they have a student membership or are large corporate sponsors - could receive discounted admission to shows, he said.

"I'm trying to get a way from the whole premise of donations," Hardwick said. "What I'm trying to accomplish is to have the Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts be a community-based organization that reciprocates any gift or contribution. With a donation, there is no expectation of return."

Hardwick said another of his goals is to cultivate the talents of younger people in the community and "bring the CRCA to the new millennium." He said he wants to host poetry competitions and screen writing competitions, and even invite students to put together short films.

"We don't have a huge presence in the school system right now and I am working to increase that tremendously," he said.

Hardwick has lived in Conyers for eight years with his wife, Gail, and two children, Carmen, 5, and Mason, 3. Hardwick attended Florida A&M University and joined in 1995 the sports marketing department of the Georgia Institute of Technology Athletic Association, where he served as assistant director of sports marketing. During this time, Hardwick oversaw every aspect of marketing and game operations for men's sports, as well as the school's role as the host venue of the 1996 Centennial Olympics boxing events.

In 1998, Hardwick was hired by Underground Atlanta, where he served as director of marketing. Part of his responsibilities was to manage the marketing and events for the National Football League's Super Bowl XXXIV media party, the 2000 Major League Baseball All-Star Game festival and the annual New Year's Eve Peach Drop.

In addition, he was responsible for maintaining marketing partnerships with the city of Atlanta, the Atlanta Convention & Visitors' Bureau, the World of Coca-Cola and Central Atlanta Progress.

In 2001, Hardwick opened his own consulting firm, SedAcu Marketing Inc. He later became the operating partner of two original concept fine wine and dining ventures.

SideBar: At a glance

Name: Malik Hardwick

Position with CRCA: Executive director

Education: Florida A&M University

Experience: Marketing director, Georgia Tech Athletic Association; marketing director, Underground Atlanta; owner, SedAcu Marketing Inc.

Name: Ric Chiapetta

Position with CRCA: Artistic director

Education: Crane School of Music at the State University College, Potsdam, N.Y.; Peabody Conservatory of Music, Johns Hopkins University

Experience: Performer; director of opera department, Towson University; director, Opera To Go; artistic director, Arts Association of Newton County; vocal instructor.