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ART BEAT: ArtWorks! Gwinnett celebrates service to the community

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Special Photo Father and daughter duo Chris and Emily Kohne performed during ArtWorks! Gwinnett's call-a-thon Oct. 4.

In its short history, ArtWorks! Gwinnett has made a great impact on our area. Incorporated as a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization in 2010, it has served as the county's arts council for the past fifteen months, connecting people to events, resources and opportunities within the arts. During this period of time, ArtWorks! Gwinnett has generated a number of programs and events.

During its initial months of operation, ArtWorks! has created the first-ever awards ceremony to recognize our area's many artists and arts organizations. It has produced free professional development workshops which have educated and helped arts professionals to be more effective in their work. An exciting project, "ArtsTalk" launches on TV Gwinnett this month, and a first-ever grass-roots fundraising and community engagement effort -- a call-a-thon for the arts in Gwinnett was held on Oct. 4.

Numerous arts professionals and art supporters came together to raise money for the arts in Gwinnett during this event.

"The first call-a-thon for the arts in Gwinnett was an outstanding grass roots effort," executive director Sally Corbett said. "We achieved our goal of raising awareness and support. An estimated $3,000 in contributions was raised to support our operations and for partial membership scholarships for nonprofit arts organizations.

"The atmosphere of our two-hour live event was fun and festive thanks to Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris, ArtWorks! board, volunteers and the team at Gwinnett Festival Center. TV Gwinnett interviewed participants on the importance of the arts for future broadcast on ArtsTalk."

Nine board members and volunteers were clad in T-shirts designed by volunteer Janine Lancour that read "Show Some Love for the Arts." Emily and Chris Kohne provided inspiration with their acoustic guitar duets. More volunteers made calls from remote locations. Final calls will be made this week. At least 160 members of the community, many new to ArtWorks!, were contacted.

The arts enrich our lives and enliven our community," ArtWorks! board member Dan King said. "In a short time, ArtWorks has provided significant support and leadership to help promote and publicize the broad scope and diversity of arts activity in Gwinnett County. It has been remarkably successful and efficient."

Fellow board member Caryn McGarity added, "We have research showing that there are more than 150 arts organizations and 150 arts businesses in Gwinnett. Each month more and more of them join ArtWorks! Gwinnett's membership ranks.They know the benefits ArtWorks! provides, not only to them but to our whole community."

Another event is on the horizon. The second annual arts awards ceremony will be Feb. 25, a date that everyone who supports the arts in our community will want to put on their calendars. Last year's event at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center was a huge success and unified artists of all types as they celebrated their work and their arts community. More details will be forthcoming about the February event.

For more information about ArtWorks! Gwinnett, visit www.artworksgwinnett.org.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.