Coming up Oct. 23 is the Macon Arts Alliance’s annual Cultural Awards ceremony. Georgia may rank 49th in per capita public funding for the arts, but Macon and the midstate continue to flourish largely as the result of passionately dedicated volunteers.
Some of these folks — including some dedicated professionals — will be honored at this year’s ceremony. The Rosalyn Elkan Lifetime Achievement Award will go to Jim Crisp, who will soon step down as full-time artistic director of Theatre Macon. Crisp has not only led an organization that has presented some of the great works of the American and British stages, but the Youth Actors Company has transformed the cultural climate for the young people in this community.
Icing the cake, Crisp’s decision to launch his theater in the heart of downtown, an idea initially met with hoots and guffaws, set in motion the entertainment renaissance that has since transformed downtown.
Appropriately, the ceremony will be held downtown on Cherry Street at Theatre Macon. Also scheduled to be recognized that night are Christopher Arthur Dale Howard, Phillips Performing Arts and Dr. Stanley Roberts. Previous recipients of these awards are urged to turn out wearing their ribbons and medals. It’s an impressive sight.
Big theater month
Unlike their collegiate colleagues, community theaters have to keep an eye on potential box office revenue when they put together a season. What a delightful surprise it is then to see that both Macon Little Theatre and Theatre Macon are presenting soul-stirring titles this month. Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful,” a lovely look at old age, opens Friday at Macon Little Theatre, while the equally poignant “The Shadow Box” opens Oct. 20 at Theatre Macon.
Opera fans who missed the Metropolitan Opera’s season-opener, Bellini’s “Norma,” last weekend will be elated to hear the popular “The Magic Flute” will be at the Douglass Theatre Saturday, thanks to the Met’s “Live in HD” series. Mary Keating will present the pre-show opera chat at 12:30 p.m.
The Douglass also will host several interesting films this month including “Escapes,” presented by the Macon Film Guild.
In light of the news from the Macon Symphony Orchestra, more on that below, it may be worth observing that the Douglass was just hours away from the wrecking ball when a groundswell of support from ordinary folks changed the course of history. Ah, the power of piggy banks.
The Macon Symphony Orchestra, once known as the flagship of local organizations and until a few months ago proclaiming a rosy future, will hold a farewell concert Saturday night before turning out the lights. In one of the great mysteries of local history, in a city internationally known for its love of music, the leadership concluded there would be little point in crying out for help from the orchestra’s legions of supporters.
Knowing the importance of the orchestra to the city’s quality of life (and its appeal to business and industry) I wrote to the mayor and urged him to intercede. The post office must have failed to deliver the letter, for it went unanswered.
On Saturday the beautifully refurbished Grand Opera House will resound with the sounds of Jasmine Habersham and the Macon Symphony Orchestra, and then the spirit of music will steal away, blushing, I suspect. Was this death avoidable? We may never know.
Contact Larry Fennelly at LarryFennelly@avantguild.com.