The Arts Association in Newton County has once again put together a varied and rich cultural program for the 2007-2008 Arts Series, featuring not only local but regional and international acts.
"We are always looking for new innovative ways to present a diverse, high quality art series," said Arts Association Executive Director Buncie Hay Lanners. "One of the things that we really try to focus on is a mixture of different art forms.
"One of the things that I've felt very strongly about is making the arts accessible to all people."
The newly released schedule of programming for the 2007-2008 season highlights choral acts this year such as the internationally renowned Vienna Boys Choir (Feb. 2) and the highly acclaimed Morehouse College Glee Club (Nov. 17).
"We are so excited about the Vienna Boys Choir," Lanners said. "We hope that people will come away and say 'wow I had a touch of Austria.'"
Said Lanners of the Morehouse College Glee Club, "What a superb way to hear male voices, but also to experience traditional African-American spirituals that are inherent in their music as well."
There will also be a Christmas in Covington concert featuring the Oxford Singing Children and Oxford Youth Singers (Dec. 7) and a performance of "Saint John's Passion" by the New Trinity Baroque Orchestra & Chorus (March 2).
"'Saint John's Passion' is from a classical music perspective one of the quintessential choral works," Lanners said.
Lanners said a special interest was taken in bringing acts to the county, which residents might not otherwise have a chance to see.
"We are bringing the world to Covington because not everybody gets to go out into the world," Lanners said. "It's a big task. Every year we look at a blank slate and say what it is we'd like to do this year."
Lanners said the Arts Association worked hard to ensure that a variety of art forms and styles were brought to the county.
"For example we did not have a jazz performer last year but we do this year," Lanners said.
The jazz performer this year is none other than Atlanta jazz violinist Ken Ford who will be giving a free concert on the Covington Square Sept. 28.
The jazz concert is one of several free performances hosted by the Arts Association and its corporate sponsors this season. On Oct. 13, the Parent's Choice award-winning group Daddy A Go Go will give a free performance on the square during the Literacy Festival.
On Feb. 7 there will be a free exhibit on southern iconography in printmaking called "Return of the Wanderer" featuring Boyd Saunders. Local art students will get their chance to shine during the month of March when the Newton County Library hosts a free public exhibit called "True Colours Youth Art Exhibit."
The Covington Regional Ballet Company will give two performances this year: a Christmas performance of the "Nutcracker" (Dec. 1-2) and a spring performance of "Cinderella" (April 19).
"The ballet is just one of our shining stars," Lanners said. "I'm very proud of our ballet company. Few would believe that we have that kind of talent in our community and our artistic director is so talented."
Covington denizens will also get a taste of Broadway this year when the Arts Association brings two musicals to Porter Hall: "South Pacific" (Sept. 14, 15, 21, 22) and "Oklahoma" (March 28-30). "South Pacific" will be a community theater production and "Oklahoma" will feature the Oxford Young Singers and the Oxford Singing Children.
Covington sisters and accomplished organists Alice Walker and Becky Ramsey, along with world-renowned organist Dan Miller will give a festival concert at First Presbyterian Church on Oct. 21.
The Arts Association will also be hosting a Creative Kids Camp at Oxford College from June 2-6 for rising first through sixth graders. Registration begins in mid-February and will likely fill up quickly.
Capping it all off, the Arts Association will conclude the season with a party alongside the Yellow River at the Porterdale Mill Lofts on May 3. Featuring the talents of local artists and the music of Georgia's premier party band, The Grapevine, it will be a night to remember.
"We think it's going to be a really fun way to end the season," said Lanners of the event.
Season tickets at a 20 percent savings rate are available from the Arts Association for $175. Patrons also have the choice of purchasing six tickets to any Arts Association show as part of the organization's Pick Six promotion for $125.
There are discounts on individual ticket prices for seniors and students. Most ticket prices range from $15 to $22 for adults with the Vienna Boys Choir performance the most expensive event of the season at $27 a ticket for adults.
While some might think that the shows pay for themselves, Lanners said that is not the case at all, as all of the shows are subsidized by contributions from corporate sponsors and by individual donors.
"Much of our success is based on collaboration," Lanners said. "We could not do it without these corporations who have sponsored each of these shows."
No gift is too small or too large said Lanners.
"We (Newton County) are growing by leaps and bounds and therefore the needs for our services are growing," Lanners said. "We need to be able to grow the funding. It is not something that we can take for granted."
Lanners said the Arts Association was challenged this year to come up with the necessary funding when one of their regular foundations decreased their yearly funding by $50,000. However a number of new corporate sponsors have stepped up to the plate.
"We have a significant number of new donors in the major corporate donors category ($1,000)," Lanners said.
The Arts Association offers a variety of benefits to donors at different levels such as free tickets to shows and the opportunity to hand out information on their business at Arts Association events.
Donations can be made online at www.newtoncountyarts.org or in person at the Arts Association offices at 1106 Washington Street.
Tickets can also be purchased online or at the Arts Association's office.