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Pickens Arts Community: Washing the dust off our daily lives

    Dale Carnegie once said, “The essence of all art is to have pleasure in giving pleasure.”
    Following his show on Saturday, “Home for the Holidays” artistic director Ross Galbreath said he hoped the show had inspired heartfelt emotions among audience members. Galbreath’s show, filled with very talented local actors, singers, and dancers, brought tears of happiness to at least one audience member in attendance that day and we’re willing to bet many more.
    We at the Progress want to thank the myriad of talented artists - whether in the performing, visual or written arts - for filling our community with wonderful productions that enrich our lives throughout the year.
    Whether you see the latest Tater Patch production, a North Georgia Acting Company play, a dance by Get to the Pointe ballerinas or jazz dancers, a high school or middle school band or choral show, everyone should take advantage of the great community of artists willing to share their talents with us. Local churches, too, provide us with artistic outlets as evidenced by the number of great Christmas and spring musicals performed every year.        
    A large part of any successful community is the arts and, thankfully, Pickens County is more than blessed to have numerous groups whose goals are to provide quality entertainment in many forms. Consider for a moment how fortunate this county is to have regular classical music presented here courtesy of the  Casual Classics concert series not to mention regular opportunities to learn and perform through the Creative and Performing Arts Academy.
    These groups, and many others, have a proud history of excellent productions and ambitious goals for future shows. And we are excited to be a part of a community that supports such talent. We believe arts and culture are critically relevant to everyone’s lives; it enriches who we are as people; it improves economic development; it draws people together. Perhaps most importantly, it lifts the soul and inspires.
    From this weekend’s “Home for the Holidays”, the Tater Patch Players’ “The Miracle Worker” or the hospital’s Love Light Tree lighting, our community’s dedication to arts bring us together.
    We may not be cognitively aware of it but when groups like the Sharptop Arts Association host “Open Mic” nights, allowing local artists to display their talents and us to be exposed to that talent, they are ensuring a better quality of life for us. This group along with Van Goghs Hideaway on South Main, provide unique shows of artwork open for the public year-round, ensuring that we never have to look too far to find genuine artistic works for viewing.
    Plus, courtesy of the Burnt Mountain Trading Company, Jasper often showcases the entries of art contests in public places such as the recent gingerbread house contest and scarecrow contest -- both serve to show visitors that the people who live here have pride in their community.
    And while only once a year, the Artfest celebration in the spring packs downtown with a street-full of high quality displays.
    While not seen, readers may be aware that creative writing is fostered at the youngest ages through the Sassafras Literary society.
    Studies have long found strong relationships between the presence of cultural resources in neighborhoods with much lower levels of social stress in children and adults. Arts and culture, it’s clear, plays an important role in improving the lives of ordinary people by providing us a resource to help us make sense of the world and imagine the future while remembering the past.
    We appreciate the efforts of everyone this year who has led or participated in arts projects in our community and engaged in artistic endeavors of all kinds.
    Communities benefit in multiple ways when there is a vibrant arts and cultural base and the people who develop and deliver high-quality, engaging and imaginative arts projects do a service to us all. From theatre and music to comedy and literature promoted by local volunteers, the arts represent an important dimension of social inclusion.
    This Sunday the Tater Patch Players, a community theater group formed way back in 1977, will host an open house at their theater to thank their volunteers while also seeking new ones. We would encourage everyone to join  them - or the Sharptop Arts Association or North Georgia Acting Company - and remember when deciding whether to take that step and become involved in Pickens County’s arts scene, that an artist cannot fail. It is a success just to be one.

    Editor’s Standard Disclaimer: Right now someone is fuming and saying to themselves -- how could they have left my group out - we do so much to foster the arts here? You are right and we apologize. It was an oversight, not a slight. With all that’s going on  in the local arts scene, it is truly hard to acknowledge all who deserve it.
    We apologize to whomever was left out in advance.