Arts in the Heart festivalgoers hope it'll be around next year

By: Jonathan Martin
By: Jonathan Martin

September 15, 2006

The Arts in the Heart of Augusta festival is kicking off today.

Big crowds are expected downtown for a weekend of art exhibits, dancing and food from around the world.

Gates opened at five o'clock.

This is considered the city's largest festival...and while there is always a lot of food and artistic fun, this year there's also some concern about the future of this event.

If you like art, perhaps this is a festival you don't want to miss. Arts in the Heart of Augusta is back in the Garden City.

As always, you can expect the three-day fest to be full of dancing, vendors, and, of course, ethnic food.

"We added something new this year," Brenda Durant, executive director of the Arts Council, told News 12. "A young artists market where kids 14 and under will be selling their hand-created artwork. So we figured they'd be on the Apprentice show in a few years and chasing Donald Trump."

And this year, the featured country is India. Sheila Kamath is excited about the focus being placed on her culture.

But as a ten-year festivalgoer, she's not excited to hear the Augusta Commission is looking to cut the Art Council's funding because of a budget crunch.

"It's very sad to hear about that, because all the ethnic groups collectively, this is our showcase," she said. "And Augusta has been such a wonderful town, for all the little ethnic groups being accepted."

Durant says if the cuts come, the festival's future will be up in the air.

That's why she's asking for help: "If people want to see Arts in the Heart for our 27th year in September of 2007, they really need to make an effort to call their commissioner and say, 'I support the Arts, and I hope you do too.'"

Durant says she does plan to meet with commissioners soon, but for now, this year's festival is her top priority.

If you are headed out to the festival, keep in mind that the 008 and 900 blocks of Reynolds Street will be closed all weekend.


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