Release Date: July 17, 2009
Luncheon honors community leaders, raises funds for arts scholarships
Awards will be presented to Earl Smith Strand Theatre, Olivia Smathers, Janice Vernon Slocum and Cheryl Myrbo
For media inquiries: Cheryl Anderson Brown, Director of Public Relations,
770-499-3417 or email@example.com
Dean Joseph Meeks represents this year's theme, "Magnifying the Arts"
Artwork by Joshua Stone
KENNESAW, Ga.—The Kennesaw State University College of the Arts will present the annual Flourish Awards at the Second Annual Flourish Luncheon on Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 11:30 a.m. at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The awards will be presented to the Earl Smith Strand Theatre in Marietta, Little General Cloggers founder Olivia B. Smathers of Kennesaw, art teacher Janice Vernon Slocum of Kennesaw, and artist and arts advocate Cheryl Myrbo of Atlanta.
More than 200 guests are expected to attend the luncheon, which is anticipated to raise more than $100,000 to benefit scholarship endowments and student-learning initiatives in the KSU College of the Arts. The event’s theme is “Magnifying the Arts.”
“At the luncheon, in addition to the Flourish Award recipients, we also will highlight doctors, lawyers, business leaders and others in the community who maintain an active engagement in the arts,” said Joseph Meeks, who has served as the dean of the college since its inception in 1998. “We believe it is important for people to express themselves creatively through music, dance, theater or art.”
Inaugurated in 2005, the Flourish Awards honors those who have helped the arts flourish in Georgia. They are presented in four categories: Arts Leader, Arts Educator, Nonprofit Organization/Arts Company and Community/Public Servant.
The 2009 Flourish Award for an Arts Leader will be presented to Olivia B. Smathers, founder and director of the Little General Cloggers. Founded in 1972 by Smathers and her late husband, Kenneth Smathers, for a one-time performance to welcome the locomotive, “The General” back to Kennesaw, the Little General Cloggers has become goodwill ambassadors for the city, as well as “Official Goodwill Ambassadors” for Georgia. Under Smathers’ leadership, the group has not only performed nationally and internationally in prestigious venues like the White House and the Grand Ole Opry, but also for assisted-living facilities, hospitals and schools throughout the community. In the last four decades, Smathers has ensured that innumerable children and young adults have had to learn this classic folk dance form, to travel and to learn about other cultures.
The 2009 Flourish Award for an Art Educator will be presented to Janice Vernon Slocum. An artist who has exhibited in the Brooklyn Museum of Fine Arts and Hudson Valley Art Association, Slocum has also taught art for more than 40 years. She has taught children and adults for the New York Department of Parks, Cobb County Schools, Marietta Fine Arts Center, KSU Continuing Education, and the Devereux Center. One of her favorite experiences was working for three years in an outreach program at The High Museum, doing art projects with critically ill children. For the past 12 years, she has offered classes, often pro bono, at West Cobb Senior Center, giving her students the opportunity to exhibit their artwork at the Senior Center and The Art Station-Big Shanty. Slocum has organized many museum field trips and she strives to immerse her students in the arts in their community.
The 2009 Flourish Award for Community or Public Service will be presented to Cheryl Myrbo. A freelance artist, Myrbo has been actively engaged as a community artist and advocate for many years. She has served as school arts program artist with the Fulton County Arts Council, project coordinator of the Atlanta High School Art Exhibition, a member of the board of directors of the Arts Exchange in Atlanta, and as a teaching artist for the High Museum. Additionally, she has painted murals for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and served as director of the summer camp at Spruill Center for the Arts in Dunwoody.
The 2009 Flourish Award for a Nonprofit Organization or Arts Company will be presented to the Earl Smith Strand Theatre. After years of work and planning, with assistance from many people in the community, the Strand Theatre re-opened on the Marietta Square in December 2008. Having served a variety of purposes since it was built in 1935, the revitalized facility now serves as the new home of Atlanta Lyric Theatre and a number of other events including feature films, Broadway revues, musicals and operettas, while helping draw more business to downtown Marietta. The theater also places strong emphasis on its education programs; in April, it hosted a Student Works Festival for young visual and performing artists from Cobb and surrounding counties, as well as bilingual performances of “The Three Musketeers” that was attended by students from as far away as Tattnall County in North Georgia.
Major sponsors of the Flourish Luncheon include Bill Beddingfield, Bullfrogz, The Color Spot, Diann and Richard Labroff and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. The event is being organized by a volunteer committee that includes co-chairs Jan and Mike Russell, Steve Byrne, Mike Feldberg and Kathryn Kennelly. The recipients of Flourish Awards were selected by a committee that included Sarah Brown, Ron Francis, Helen Goreham, Mark Maguire and Wanda Yang Temko.
For more information about the luncheon, click the link at www.kennesaw.edu/arts or call 770-499-3214.
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A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State University is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of more than 21,000 from 142 countries. The third-largest university in Georgia, Kennesaw State offers more than 65 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including new doctorates in education and business.
The KSU College of the Arts is one of only four Georgia institutions to have achieved full national accreditation for all of its arts programs.