The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Oct 09, 2013

Macon Arts Alliance announces 2013 Cultural Award Honorees

Posted by jdye

The 2013 Cultural Awards honors those who have made significant contributions to arts and culture in Central Georgia.

In honor of National Arts and Humanities month, Macon Arts Alliance (a Knight Arts grantee) will present the 2013 Cultural Awards on October 15 at 6 p.m. at the Douglass Theatre in downtown Macon. The free event will also function at MAA's annual meeting.

The 2013 Cultural Award honorees are: Marianna Gebara - Rosalyn Elkan Lifetime Achievement Award The 2013 Rosalyn Elkan Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree for 2013 is Marianna Gebara, managing director of Nutcracker of Middle Georgia. Gebara exemplifies dedication in her contributions to our area's cultural life by working to ensure, largely behind the scenes, that the arts have the financial and human support needed to thrive. She's been an integral part of Nutcracker of Middle Georgia since 1985, when she was a member of the founding group of ballet supporters. She's served as a board member, officer and, since 2001, as managing director. The cultural landscape of Middle Georgia is defined by the events and organizations that last. For more than 27 years, Nutcracker of Middle Georgia has stood as a tradition, a rite of passage for local ballet students, and a treasured event for the multitude of families who attend each year. It's impossible to imagine the past quarter century without Nutcracker of Middle Georgia, and it's impossible to imagine Nutcracker of Middle Georgia without Marianna Gebara.

Janice Brice Janice Brice has been a patron of the arts in Central Georgia for many years. In that time, she's served in a multitude of roles and been an integral part of the cultural fabric of the area. Brice has served as the treasurer of the Central Georgia Opera Guild and the Macon Concert Association. She has been a board member of Macon Arts Alliance and was instrumental in bringing the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD to the Douglass Theatre. Her efforts go far beyond managing money. She works tirelessly to bring wonderful music and art to the community. Brice is currently on the board of the Morning Music Club.

Kathleen "Kam" Cook Kathleen "Kam" Cook has been an encouraging, positive force of volunteerism and advocacy throughout Central Georgia and in her home of Crawford County. She has a "can-do" attitude that brings vitality and energy to every project of which she is a part. Her civic involvement has included numerous organizations such as the Crawford County Historical Society, Crawford County Kiwanis Club, History Club of Macon, Macon Heritage Foundation (now Historic Macon Foundation), and the Museum of Arts and Sciences, just to name a few. She was even an administrative assistant at Macon Arts Alliance in its early years. Cook has been a strong supporter of the Georgia JugFest and Old Knoxville Days in Crawford County, and a staunch advocate for historic preservation throughout the area.

Kenneth Hammond Kenneth Hammond loves the arts and isn't afraid to share that love with everyone. Some have called him a "town crier" for the arts, or a "pied piper," if you will. He has a personal email list with which he shares regular updates about local arts and cultural events and personal invitations to attend. He convenes groups of friends to attend local events, and spreads the word about what's happening however he can. As a member of the board of the Opera Guild, he works diligently on every event and tirelessly towards its success. He is admired for his culinary talents, his willingness to share those and many other talents, and his desire to see everyone enjoy the many arts offerings in our community.

Macon Film Festival Macon is quickly becoming known throughout the state, and the country, as a place to make movies. From 42 to Need for Speed to Trouble with the Curve, Hollywood has taken notice. There's no question that the Macon Film Festival has been a driving force behind Macon's introduction into the film industry. Created in 2006 as a project of the Cox Capitol Theatre, Macon Film Festival has grown to attract high-quality films and visits by prominent filmmakers. In 2011, the festival expanded to five venues, featuring three screening venues, a workshop location, and a headquarters for ticketing and hospitality. Through its independent film competition, special screenings, workshops, community events and its subset, the Macon Film Commission, the festival has elevated Macon in the eyes of the film industry and in the hearts of all who call Macon home.

Claire Smith and Nancy Shurling The dynamic duo of Claire Smith and Nancy Shurling have been nominated and awarded a 2013 Cultural Award together. Each has made significant contributions on an individual basis, but their work together has had an impact on the Museum of Arts and Sciences that will live on for years to come. They were the co-chairs of the 2007 event that inspired the annual event known as the Festival of Trees Luncheon. The first year was a quite an experience - Smith and Shurling volunteered to cater the luncheon which turned into a massive hit. They sold more than 200 tickets and inspired a new tradition. Their work has been phenomenal, as they've continued to work together over the past half decade, but 2013 marks the end of an era. This year, they will hand the tradition off to new co-chairs making this award both timely and well deserved.

Gina Ward Gina Ward has been the manager of the Historic Douglass Theatre in Downtown Macon since 2003. She is responsible for every aspect of the theatre including keeping the seats filled through regular performances, musical events, political forums, family gatherings and film presentations. She does this all while maintaining a historic facility that requires special projects, upgrades and repairs. Those who work with Ward on a regular basis know that she is dedicated to the preservation of the Douglass and its best use as a performing arts center for Downtown Macon. She always has a smile on her face and a warm-hearted word for anyone she meets. Her demeanor is reflected in her work. She is the common denominator in all the successful events at the Douglass and in the success of downtown as a whole.

Macon Arts Alliance: 486 First St., Macon; 478-743-6940; Douglass Theatre: 355 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Macon; 478-742-2000;

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