Don’t abandon arts education in Fayette

Tue, 08/14/2007 - 3:53pm
By: Letters to the ...

I received an email today from the Georgia Council of the Arts stating the Georgia Department of Education has just revised its graduation requirements for next year. There is a lot of concern due to the fact the arts have been cut even further from standard curriculums.

Students are now allowed only ONE elective credit in the fine arts for an entire year. This means if a student is an art or music major, he or she cannot take any more classes in their field of study.

This seems a triple negative hit for us here in Fayette County since the Fayette County commissioners and our local school board recently voted not to support the Fayette Art Center at their budget hearings.

This was after they were presented with signed petitions asking for their support, shown pictures of the million-dollar plus art centers in surrounding counties and were given statistics of the number of youths, adults and artists in need of access to art education and a gallery in this county.

They were given data verifying that our county demographics (highest average household income in the state and highest average household education) constituted the perfect population that would actually visit and use an art center. They were given data about how enhanced creative thinking skills directly correlate to enhanced grade point averages and how business relies heavily on creative thinkers.

I tried my best to get across to them [this] was not about painting pretty pictures. Although, think of what the world would be like without artists.

Blank walls in homes and businesses. No illustrations in books or magazines. No colorful websites. No cartoons or animation. No video games. No photography. No colorful fabric designs in sheets and clothes. No visual conveyance of thought about social issues, earth’s beauty, religion or passion. No ceramic dishes. No statues. No fountains. No architecture beyond a box. No logo design and on and on.

The world really does need people who can think outside the box and come up unique ideas. Even though we are a minority in the work force, we are the driving force behind the work force.

By the way, the county commissioners were also given copies of Arts Clayton’s tax return (a non-profit very similar to ours except they are not presently offering classes) which showed Clayton County gave them $156,000. All we were asking for was a service contract of $50,000. We got nothing, although another park received $156,000 for lights, toilets, etc.

We asked the Fayette County School Board for a service contract of $25,000 to enable us to improve and continue art camps and after-school art programs. They voted no as well.

So as far as continued education in the visual arts , I guess it is up to us, the people of Fayette County, to enhance the quality of life of our children and ourselves.

Therefore, I am praying for financial support from all of you out there who would like to see our art curriculum continue to improve. Please become a member, which is only $35 a year. We are also seeking corporate donations, trust funds, board members, grant writers and fund-raisers. We have accomplished much in two years, but could do so much more with additional help.

Also, for those of you who don’t know, we have plans to expand into the old Collectibles space next to the jewelry store in downtown, historical Fayetteville. This expansion will give us a larger gallery, loft studio space for artists to work away from home, a public access photography shooting studio with computer rooms for editing and, last but not least, a cafe with a small stage where we can hold poetry readings, acoustic music, monologues etc. Most importantly, it will give our youth a place to share ideas, learn and congregate.

But to make this move, we must raise $50,000 to bring the space up to code. If there are any builders/contractors who would be able to offer in-kind labor, that would be fabulous. If there are any flooring companies who could donate carpet or linoleum, that would also be an answered prayer.

Once we get this place up to code and running smoothly, it will most certainly jump-start downtown redevelopment around the courthouse, which would be an added bonus.

In the meantime, I promise as director of the Fayette Art Center to do everything in my power to continue teaching children art, photography, and pottery, continue to help serious art students put together portfolios, help adults master art forms, support the new cultural arts clubs and associations forming and provide the only galley within the county for our artists to exhibit.

Donations are tax-deductible and can be sent to Southern Community Bank c/o Fayette Art Center, or mailed to Fayette Art Center & Gallery, 2011 West Hwy. 54, Fayetteville, GA 30214. For a list of classes offered, please email

Kathaleen Brewer, director

Fayette Arts Center & Gallery

Fayetteville, Ga.

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