Local nonprofit organizations receive funds from art grant

It's not an easy process for Nancy Gullickson and Alicia Brooke. There are forms to be filed, applications to be reviewed, meetings to be organized.

"We have to get applications, notify local groups, decide how the money should be spent, put together our panel, all the administering work," said Nancy Gullickson, executive director of the Gwinnett Council for the Arts. "It's a lot of work and a very labor-intensive process. "

At the end of all the tedious work, though, is knowledge that arts are thriving in Gwinnett. On Dec. 14, Gullickson and Brooke realized the fruits of their labors when the Grassroots Arts Program grants for the 2006-2007 year were announced. The GAP grants are supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly,

"[The grants] are a good starting point for new arts organizations," said Brooke, marketing director for the council. "It really helps them have a solid foundation."

This year, a total of $16,000 was split between eight groups. A panel of residents and local arts experts decided on the following organizations as grant recipients: The County Seat Players, Gwinnett Choral Guild, Lilburn Women's Club, Lionheart Theatre, New London Theatre, Northeast Atlanta Ballet, Susan Chambers Dance Company and Southern Ballet Theatre.

For the past 14 years, the GAP has awarded more than $158,000 in grants to an array of arts groups, everything from a Russian dance ensemble to an African-American relief group. No arts project is too unusual for the council.

"We have a very diverse group of organizations that we have, and do, award funds to," said Brooke.

"Every kind of group you can think of, we have seen," added Gullickson.

Beyond financial support, the grants help bolster a groups reputation within the community, often taking an unknown project into the public realm.

"Groups go after the grant as much for the public recognition and prestige as they do for the funds," said Gullickson. "It can help them create a name."

There is no limit on how many times a group can win the grant, and some organizations have been a part of the grant program for years, such as the Susan Chambers dance studio, which has received the grant 13 of its 14 years. Throughout the year, the recipients are showcased in various council events, at local festivals and other Gwinnett happenings, helping boost community awareness of the selected arts programs.

"It's like we adopt these groups for the year," said Brooke. "All the groups are so appreciative to have gotten these funds. Who wouldn't be happy about getting money, though?"

Sustaining arts projects in the community is more than a pet project for Brooke and Gullickson. It's a passion.

"Can you imagine a world without the arts? What a drab and dreary world it would be," said Gullickson. "These grants help to ensure arts in our community. Arts are not a frill, they are a necessity."

Book exhibition raises funds to cure cancer

Galactic Quest comic book store will hold Galactic Con Quest, a comic book convention and fundraiser for Cure Childhood Cancer, today through Monday. The store is located at 4264 Sudderth Road in Buford. The event, which began Saturday, features role-playing and cards games, a costume contest, art lessons, magicians and children's activities.

Admission is $10 for the weekend, and free for children under 10 years old. Call 770-614-4804 or visit www.galacticquest.com.

Holiday gala

nets funds, toys

Virtual Properties Realty hosted a Toys for Tots toy and fundraising drive at the company's Christmas gala Dec. 2 at the Gwinnett Civic Center, with nearly 430 guests attending and donating toys. Wachovia Mortgage and Wachovia Bank were co-sponsors of the drive. The total amount of toys and funds raised was unavailable. Call 770-843-2070.

Restaurants donate

to Camp Twin Lakes

Chipotle Mexican Grill and Les Dames d'Escoffier have raised more than $7,700 to be donated to a local camp for sick children. The fundraising efforts will benefit the Green Tables Initiative, which urges Americans to understand how their food is grown. The funds will be donated to plant an organic garden at Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge.

Les Dames d'Escoffier is a networking group for women involved in the food, beverage and hospitality industries. For more information, visit www.ldei.org or www.chipotle.com.

Foundation receives grant for eye clinic

The Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation received a $25,000 grant from The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta to support an eye clinic. The clinic allows low-income and uninsured Georgians to receive eyeglasses and exams at a low cost. The Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation began a partnership with Emory Eye Care and the Good Samaritan Health Clinic in November and has served more than 48 people so far. For information, call 1-800-718-SITE or visit www.lionslighthouse.org.