Columbia County Community Connections hopes to provide exposure for many of Harlem's artists and engage art enthusiasts with its inaugural Harlem Arts Festival.
The festival includes nearly two weeks of art events including concerts, dramatic performances and a silent auction.
Julie Miller, the executive director of Community Connections, said the festival is a way to spotlight the group and area artists.
"(It is) to raise Columbia County Community Connections' visibility in the community and also to promote the arts in the community, because we feel like Harlem has a lot of artistic endeavors," Miller said. "They have a lot of people who are interested in the arts and (are) artistic and we just wanted to expose those to the broader community."
Events began Thursday with performances by the Harlem Middle School steel drum band and various school band solos and ensembles. Friday brought monologues and show tunes performed by Harlem High School Drama students. The Harlem United Methodist Church praise band Reality Check gave a concert on Friday.
But more arts events are slated for this week, beginning with a Tuesday performance of the North Harlem Elementary School chorus and Harlem High drama students. The 7 p.m. concert will be held at the elementary school.
"We're excited about it," said Misty Hamb, a festival coordinator and AmeriCorps volunteer. "We're a little nervous, this is our first venture out into this kind of festival, but I think it is going to be good. I think it is going to be a lot of fun and the kids are going to have a blast with it."
The festival continues with a Thursday poetry reading by Wanda Seals and a Friday performance by the Harlem United Methodist Church Chancel Choir. Lee McFatridge will give his monologue Confessions of an Ex-Crossmaker on Saturday.
About 15 pieces of art, donated from area artists, will be on display at the Harlem Library through Saturday as part of a silent auction, Hamb said.
Tickets to the events are $2 and can be purchased at the door.
Miller said she hopes the festival will become an annual event and grow each year to include a larger community and more arts groups.
For more information about the festival, call (706) 556-0609.
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