Newton receives art grants

COVINGTON - Several organizations in Newton and Rockdale counties were recipients of this year's Grassroots Arts Program grants.

The Grassroots Arts Program is funded by the Georgia Council for the Arts through appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly. Every Georgia county receives a per capita allocation.

The concept of the program is to encourage local collaboration between artists, arts organizations and non-arts organizations to serve a broad range of Georgia residents. Funding is open to any nonprofit organization or local government. Funded projects must be accessible to the general public, provide 50 percent of the total project cost as a cash match for the grant and must be completed by June 30.

Three organizations in Newton and Rockdale counties were grant recipients.

In Newton County, Southern Heartland Arts Inc. received $1,871.92 for its Artful Harvest fall exhibit. The first juried art show hosted by the organization was held in October and open to the public at no cost. The grant will pay for prize money for winners and for marketing costs, said Beverly Smith, chairwoman of grants for Southern Heartland.

Grants like those distributed by the Grassroots program are more important for arts organizations than ever before, Smith said.

"It can be a make or break deal for us because with the economic situation as it is, the less and less money people have for arts. The help from the state really allows artists to put their work out there and market their work and that's exactly what the grant is for, is to support the individual artist," she said.

The Newton County Library also received a $600 grant for its Creative Arts Series.

Carol Durusau, head of children's services at the library, said the money will help pay for additional activities that will be a part of the 2009 Summer Reading Program.

"Next year's theme for summer reading is 'Be Creative at Your Library.' We wanted to do things throughout the summer so kids can learn how to do creative things," Durusau said.

Puppet shows, a puppet-making workshop, digital photography and comic book art classes are a few events on the agenda.

"Getting this grant really helps us ... We've really gotten cut back on the money from the state and locally to do those kinds of things," Durusau said.

The Covington-Conyers Choral Guild was also selected as a Newton County Grassroots Arts grant recipient.

In Rockdale County, the Conyers-Rockdale Council for the Arts received an $1,800 grant for its first professional production, "ART," which won the 1998 Tony Award for best play. The council will pay professional actors to supplement its community actor base.

The play will run Jan. 30 and 31 and Feb. 1, 6, 7 and 8.

"This grant allows us to have the artistic freedom to realize our vision as well as the director's vision for what we're trying to accomplish, the look of the show and the professional quality we hope to be able to achieve," said Ric Chiapetta, artistic director for the Conyers-Rockdale Council for the Arts.

Community theater group The New Depot Players received a $967.34 for a murder mystery theater production next spring.

"It's going to give us some up-front capital so we can go ahead and get costuming and some of the set supplies ahead of time, and those are some of the expenses that are the most for any production that you do," said Amber McCollough, board president for The New Depot Players. "We're hoping to use this money to the best of our abilities and put on a great show."

Finally, Peachtree Academy, a daycare facility and private school in Rockdale, was selected as a grant recipient for its Youth Art Series.

Arts Clayton was selected by the Georgia Council for the Arts to administer the program for the 10 counties in the Southside region for fiscal year 2009.

Southside area organizations received grants totaling more than $26,000.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.