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Culture notes: Georgia Shakespeare opens bag of Christmas stories in benefit; news from Cobb Energy, Georgia Lawyers, South Arts

By Howard Pousner

There is a big carrot dangling in front of Georgia Shakespeare, and those attending a benefit performance on Dec. 15 will help the troupe get closer to it.

Launched last summer, the Viva Georgia Shakespeare Campaign set a goal of raising $1 million dollars by Jan. 31. The Harland Charitable Foundation issued a challenge grant to help make the goal more get-able: If Georgia Shakespeare can raise $950,000, the foundation will grant the final $50,000. With less than two months to go, the troupe has raised $750,000.

The Dec. 15 event, “A Georgia Shakespeare Christmas Story,” aims to up the holiday spirit along with the giving ante.

Doors open at 6 p.m., for pre-show games, sweets and prizes. The storytelling, including from “The Night Before Christmas,” “The Gift of the Magi” and “Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins,” runs 7 to 9 p.m. Performers include Margaret Baldwin, Rob Cleveland, Daniel May, Allen O’Reilly and Mary Lynn Owens. A jolly visitor from points north is expected to slide by, as well.

Tax-deductible tickets ($35 adults, $15 children) are available via 404-504-1473, 4484 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta.

Cobb Energy jazz program scores NEA grant
Like classical music, jazz music is often placed on the endangered art form list. Not enough young people are listening to it or playing it for the art form to thrive, or so the chatter goes.

The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre Foundation may have a role in changing that assumed outcome. The foundation recently received its first National Endowment for the Arts grant, a $10,000 Challenge America Fast-Track grant to be used for to support the foundation’s Jazz Roots series.

The fledgling series takes young music students behind the scenes of jazz concerts. Al Jarreau, Ramsey Lewis, Experanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington and Dave Koz were part of the series this year, with Jarreau and Carrington teaching master classes for students.

The NEA will give $1.53 million in small Fast-Track grants to 153 organizations through fiscal year 2013. ROSALIND BENTLEY

Helping lawyers who help artists
A gala and silent auction Dec. 13 at the Terminal West music/special events venue at King Plow Arts Center will benefit Georgia Lawyers for the Arts, a nonprofit organization that provides legal assistance and educational programming to artists and arts organizations across the state.

The auction will feature works by prominent local artists as well as donations from local organizations, including a cabin on Sixthman’s Rock Boat music festival cruise sailing out of Miami on Feb. 24.

The 6:30 to 10 p.m. gala is sponsored by law firms including Kilpatrick Townsend, King & Spalding, Greenberg Traurig, Alston & Bird.

Last year, Georgia Lawyers for the Arts conducted more than 60 educational programs and provided more than $1 million in free legal services. At its King Plow offices, the group also maintains an extensive resource library that contains sample contracts, copyright information and more than 250 volumes accessible to artists, arts agencies, museums, galleries, attorneys and the public.

Gala tickets, $100, via 404-873-3911, Terminal West is at 887 W. Marietta St. N.W., Studio C, Atlanta.

New leader for regional arts agency
Suzette (Susie) Surkamer is the new executive director of the Atlanta-based regional arts nonporfit South Arts.

Surkamer began working with the South Carolina Arts Commission as dancer-in-residence in 1974, rising to its executive director in 1994. Under her direction, the agency made strides in arts education reform, rural arts development, design arts and other initiatives. In 2008, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies recognized her with the Gary Young Award, its highest honor for individual achievement.

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