Out & About

Macon’s arts groups set a fine example

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How fitting it is that the first Georgia Walks Summit is coming to Macon this week. Looking at the new 567 Center for Renewal on First Street, I can’t help but reflect on the transformative changes that have occurred in the heart of the city.

We don’t often think of the arts as a vehicle for downtown revitalization, but many of the best things that have occurred in recent years stem from artistic enterprise.

It was in the early days of Theatre Macon when the fledgling group moved briefly into the former S&S Cafeteria on Cherry Street, prior to renovating the Ritz Theatre across the street.

Since that time, the Grand Opera House has been restored (again), the Cox Capitol Theatre has re-opened, the Douglass Theatre has been saved, the Tubman Museum has occupied a beautiful new space, the Otis Redding Foundation has joined the Cotton Avenue restoration project, and, on College Street, the McDuffie Center for Strings and Mercer University’s Center for the Arts are now open. No doubt there are also others.

And the vision is spreading. Also last week, Macon Arts Alliance and Historic Macon Foundation teamed up to offer tours of the renaissance that is taking place across the river in Mill Hill Village, where a linear park will help join Macon’s walking trails to the Ocmulgee National Monument.

Yes, it’s easy to see why Macon was selected to host the first Georgia Walks Summit.

In a city where progress is often stymied by political disputes, the arts community repeatedly demonstrates the ability to pull together for the commonweal.

CAMPS & FESTIVALS FAR AND NEAR

I first heard talented Howard High School violinist Ashley Pointer perform at the Central High School Fine Arts Spring Concert when she joined the Central Orchestra for a rousing rendition of “Praeludium Funk.”

The latest news is that she will head to New York City this summer for Grammy Camp. Wow!

Meanwhile, Macon’s favorite young soprano, Jasmine Habersham, a performer at last summer’s Glimmerglass Festival, is now off to this summer’s Utah Opera and Musical Theatre Festival, where she’ll be appearing in “Ragtime,” “Porgy and Bess” and others.

Also on the festival circuit, for those with an expansive travel budget, Bobbie McDuffie will be teaming up with Mike Mills of R.E.M. fame at both the Rome Chamber Music Festival and the Aspen Music Festival. The pair will present “Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra.”

Contact Larry Fennelly at LarryFennelly@avantguild.com.

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