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Posted: May 25, 2011 12:00 a.m.

Giddens: The music dies in Macon

Georgia is losing one of its hidden treasures.

The Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon is shutting down June 12. The facility, like so many museums and art groups across the nation, faced a loss of government funds and couldn't afford to remain open, so its board announced Tuesday that it is closing up shop.

Goodbye gospel music chapel. So long, soda shop re-creation. Bye-bye, B52s display. Adios, James Brown and the Famous Flames memorabilia. It was a great introduction to the many talented, pioneering musicians who made Georgia their home.

It's a shame. Macon, home to the Allman Brothers, Little Richard Penniman and Otis Redding, was the perfect place to celebrate Georgia's rich and diverse music heritage. Now, the collection will be moved to The University of Georgia in Athens. Athens is an appropriate place that's also rich with pop music history, but it's not as centrally located as Macon. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will continue, as will the wonderful aural exploration of Georgia to be found in Georgia Music Magazine, according to spokeswoman Lisa Love.

"The relevance of Georgia's music heritage and the need to document and grow the collection remains the same," she said.

Some of its relevant exhibits may be farmed out to other facilities so that they may be enjoyed by visitors elsewhere, but there will be no central repository where you can learn about Georgia's musical heritage with the Macon facility's closure.

Such shutdowns seem inevitable these days.

The heat is on government at all levels to fund basic services. Spending on cultural enrichment services such as museums, arts programs and recreational activities seem extraneous when you can't afford to pay for adding deputies for road patrol.

The strain is also on private contributors and patrons. Giving is down, and the groups can't count on government to make up the difference. And such facilities and programs will never make it on admission fees alone.
So you lose a facility like the hall of fame.

Down I-20 in Augusta, Fort Discovery Science Center closed as school systems across the state cut field trip funding. The Georgia Golf Hall of Fame never got beyond some neat statues of golfers and a nice garden.
Great little facilities, secret jewels of culture are lost.

I have my memories of the B52s and their early days in Athens; how odd and different they sounded and looked than everyone else in a town full of odd and different characters. They were the party people of the New Wave, audacious, fun and fearless.

I gave my kids a righteous music education, and they grew up bopping along in their car seats to "Private Idaho" and the tale of Quiche the poodle.

Oral and aural history is one thing, but check out this photo from the hall of fame. It visually captures the B52s perfectly in a static display.

Those dresses. Those covers. Wow.

It's an education you could find nowhere else, and now it's gone.

Tharon Giddens is editor of The Covington News. Reach him at (678) 750-5011 or at tgiddens@covnews.com.

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