The Voices of North Georgia community chorus has been awarded a $10,000 operations grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts, kicking off its 2014-2015 rehearsals with new excitement.
“We’re extremely excited about it,” said Melanie Johnson, president of Voices of North Georgia. “We’re all doing a happy dance.”
The chorus of about 50 North Georgians is directed by Bruce Nunley, who said this grant is record-breaking.
“The largest amount that I remember us receiving was a grass-roots grant a few years back for $1,500,” he said. “This is the first time that we’ve gotten an operations grant for $10,000, which is just wonderful.”
Nunley said the chorus had already planned its upcoming season before the grant was announced, but is prepared for the upgrades the extra funds will allow.
Plans include increasing publicity for shows, increasing its music library, hiring more instrumentalists and dancers and exploring new show venues.
“I just spoke with Vicki Wineland at Brenau and it looks like we’re going to be able to make use of the downtown theater for our spring concert,” Nunley said. “We’re going to be able to add some lighting effects. Since we’re going to be in a theater, might as well jazz it up some. We can do it a little bit better now that we have this money.”
The chorus usually performs at local churches such as St. Paul’s United Methodist and Lakewood Baptist, which were more affordable than theaters.
“I’d say it’s at least twice, if not four times as expensive, to present a program with two dress rehearsals and two dress performances in a theater than it is to present it in a church sanctuary,” Nunley said.
Gladys Wyant, executive director of The Arts Council in Gainesville, is also a member of the Georgia Council for the Arts and said she was pleased to hear the chorus received the grant.
“The Georgia Council for the Arts budget over four years prior to Gov. (Nathan) Deal’s term in office was cut by 85 percent, so the funds are very limited. So it’s a feather in their cap that they were able to receive this $10,000 grant.”
Wyant has attended some of its concerts and expects the grant to help with its upcoming shows.
“After their many, many years of providing beautiful music for our community, we’re pleased that they got this money from the state to support them this year.”