Arts Council awards 7 school grants
by Emily Adams
SYLACAUGA – The Arts Council awarded seven $500 grants to area schools last month, President Frances Dates announced at a council meeting Monday.

The grants, each in support of an arts-related project, went to Fayetteville High School, Indian Valley Elementary School, Knollwood Christian School, Nichols-Lawson Middle School, Pinecrest Elementary School and two to Sylacauga High School.

“We know money is very tight for education right now, particularly for arts programs, so we are delighted that we can help teachers purchase supplies or do any projects that will support the continuation of art for our students,” Dates said.

The donations will fund a Shakespeare Festival at Knollwood, art supplies at Nichols-Lawson and SHS, a field trip to see “Macbeth” at SHS and arts-centered assembly programs at FHS, Pinecrest and Indian Valley. This is the fourth year the council has awarded the grants. Dates said they budgeted for 11 this year, but only seven grant applications were received.

Also at the meeting, Marble Festival Chairman Ted Spears said a production crew from the Travel Channel filmed in Sylacauga about two weeks ago for a new TV show called “Monumental Mysteries” that will tour the country for unique monuments and their hidden stories. The segment of the show featuring Sylacauga will focus on the “Falling Star” monument at City Hall commemorating the Hodges’ meteorite, which notably struck Oak Grove resident Ann Hodges in her home in 1954.

Spears said the television crew interviewed Black Belt Museum Curator John Hall, who has done extensive research on the meteorite, and also filmed the marble quarry, the Imerys Gantt’s Quarry observation deck, the city’s welcome sign, a home similar to the Hodges’ house and some neighborhoods throughout the city. A premiere date for the show has not yet been announced.

“I think it’s going to be a wonderful program that highlights Sylacauga,” Spears said, “and it wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the Arts Council and the Marble Festival.”

The “Falling Star” monument was the first marble sculpture donated to the city by the Arts Council in 2009. It has since been joined by “Sylacauga Emerging,” sculpted by Craigger Browne last year, and several other pieces on display at B.B. Comer Library.

Spears added that he, along with Browne and Library Director Shirley Spears, spoke about Sylacauga marble at a symposium at Auburn University last weekend. In a continued partnership with the university, a student intern from Auburn will be working at the library this semester, and College of Liberal Arts students are helping with promotional materials for the fifth annual Marble Festival to be held April 9-20. Auburn students will also be visiting during the festival. Furthermore, a film crew from Troy University plans to shoot a video about Sylacauga marble soon to be shown at events around the state, Spears said.

“Sylacauga is getting its name out all over the nation, so we’re thrilled with that, and it’s only because this group of people called the Sylacauga Arts Council went out on a limb and agreed to host or try to do the first Marble Festival,” Spears said. “Here we are coming up on number five, and we’re excited about the progress that we’re making. We’ve got little dots all over the place, and now we’re connecting the dots.”

The council is currently selling $25 tickets for its annual Dinner Theater to be held Feb. 21 at J. Craig Smith Community Center at 5:30 p.m. The event will feature entertainment from The Dill Pickers, a group of six performers who play bluegrass-inspired music using more than 30 instruments between them. Tickets are available at B.B. Comer Library or from any Arts Council member.

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© 2013