by Susan Frampton
Art can transform our view from mundane to extraordinary. I can lift our spirits, ignite our emotions, and tap into our imaginations. In fact, according to Americans for the Arts, "The arts are fundamental to our humanity. The ennoble and inspire us - fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts help us express our values, build bridges between cultures, and bring us together regardless of ethnicity, religion, or age."
The arts are given short shrift in many communities, but for over forty years the Greater Augusta Arts Council has worked hard to make sure that inspiration is available to those in and around Augusta, Georgia, a city in which art is everywhere. From the Blue Horse mosaic on the balcony of the historic D. Tim building, to the water-themed murals of Augusta Water Utilities Facility; from Kathleen Girdler Engler's bronze statue of The Graduate, found outside the Greenblatt Library of Augusta University's Medical Campus to stately lions watching over the Butt Memorial Bridge; and from Springfield Park's Tower of Aspiration to the Municipal Building's Lady of Justice - art lives in this city.
"There is a real appreciation for art throughout Augusta; it's an incredibly vibrant town, rich in musicians, writers, visual artists, theater, and performing arts. You can come here any time of year and always find something going on," says Executive Director, Brenda Durant.
One of the biggest festivals in the South, the Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival held each September has long been a flagship event, helping to establish Augusta as an area arts destination. Over the course of more than 35 years, the festival has grown from a parking lot art show, to filling three full city blocks, parks, and common areas, with 5 stages, 140 fine arts and crafters, and a global village featuring international food representing the area's cultural diversity.
The Greater Augusta Arts Council she leads is passionately dedicated to meeting and exceeding the needs of the growing art community, and eager to share the benefits with visitors, residents, and those looking to relocate.
Augusta's art community keeps raising the bar here. That's what is so fascinating about this area. The bar keeps being raised, and we all rise along with it," says Durant. "That is a beautiful thing."