Members of Columbia County Arts Inc. celebrated their past year and outlined the year ahead Monday..
"We've raised more money and brought in more new members this year than in the history of Columbia County Arts, so that's exciting," said Ron Jones, the art council's president, who will step down from that position this month.
The group, which was formed in 2000, consists of six Columbia County-based organizations -- the Artists Guild of Columbia County, the Columbia County Ballet, the county Choral Society, the Company of Job, the Laurel and Hardy Museum and Stage III.
The volunteer group aims to promote the arts and educate and inspire the community.
After a brief performance by the Columbia County Ballet performing company on the lawn outside the Brandon Wilde clubhouse, members gathered inside for the meeting and dined on French cuisine.
The Columbia County Arts membership drive that began in March added 50 new business members and four "cornerstone" members, bringing in about $13,000 in membership dues, said Gordon Renshaw, the group's chairman-elect.
One of the drive's main goals is to hire an executive director, which the group plans to do once enough funds are raised, Jones said.
"It's been satisfying to see the transition in the board because we've had more of the people from the business community join forces with the board, which I had hoped from the very beginning," said Jones, who has held the position for a year and once before in the past.
Dwain Shaw, vice president of the Artists Guild, was elected Monday as Jones' successor.
The organizations within the group noted the successes of past events and discussed performances for the next year.
Events including Stage III's production of Always: Patsy Cline , the Artists Guild's Augusta Photography Festival, the Augusta Symphony's Columbia County Music Series and Pops! Under the Stars, and the Company of Job's preview performances of Job: A Post-Modern Opera of Biblical Proportions were highlighted at the session.
"I pledge to do the best I can with the arts and try to get the county involved," Columbia County Community Events Manager Stacie Adkins said, adding that the inaugural Columbus Day Festival, the Christmas Crafts and Caroling, and the Arts Endowment Concert next February are of special importance to the arts group.
Columbia County Civic Orchestra musical director and conductor Rob Nordan said his organization plans to join the county's arts council. The civic orchestra started with 12 string musicians in February and has since expanded to a full orchestra with 47 members.
Members also unanimously voted Adkins, Columbia County Library Director Christina Rice, Augusta Christian Schools Music Director Jan Little and photographer Frank Lazenby into the group's board of directors.
"What I hope to accomplish as I'm merging out and the new leadership is moving in is that we continue working toward cohesiveness on the board," Jones said.
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