Posting Date: August 30, 2010

Luncheon honors community leaders, raises funds for arts scholarships

Awards will be presented to Theatre in the Square, Seth Hopkins, Lee Rhyant and Chiazor Nwabude

For media inquiries: Cheryl Anderson Brown, Director of Public Relations,
770-499-3417 or

The 2009 Flourish Award recipients were Cheryl Myrbo (left), Janice Vernon Slocum (center), The Earl Smith Strand Theatre (represented by Earl Reece, second from right), and Olivia Smathers (represented by Ken Smathers, right, and Mark England, second from left)

Photo by Melissa Ray

KENNESAW, Ga.The Kennesaw State University College of the Arts will present its annual Flourish Awards at the Third Annual Flourish Luncheon on Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 11:30 a.m. at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The awards will be presented to Theatre in the Square of Marietta; Seth Hopkins, executive director of the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville; Marietta High School dance teacher Chiazor Nwabude; and Lee Rhyant, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Marietta.

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, “Be Inspired,” spotlights the role the arts play in reinvigorating people through creative activity and new ways of looking at the world.

“At this year’s luncheon, we are really highlighting our students,” said Joseph Meeks, who has served as the dean of the college since its inception in 1998. “Guests will be able to experience the talent and dedication of the students through displays, videos and live performances.”

The Flourish Awards honor those who have helped the arts flourish in Georgia. They are presented in four categories.

The award for an Arts Leader will be presented to Seth Hopkins, executive director of the Booth Western Art Museum. When he assumed this position in 2000, Hopkins was hiring and training staff, developing operating procedures, consulting with the design team on building plans and construction, and directing the organization of the galleries and initial art installation. Hopkins then shifted his attention to fundraising, programs and exhibitions. In the past seven years, the museum has mounted nearly 100 temporary art exhibitions, many of which were curated or co-curated by him. He has also served as an arts lecturer, writer, scholar and juror. His writings have appeared in several national art magazines.

The award for an Art Educator will be presented to Chiazor Nwabude
, who has served as the dance teacher at Marietta High School for seven years. She teaches six full classes of dance and manages an after-school dance ensemble in which as many as 300 students each semester study modern and jazz dance with the infusion of ballet and many other standard techniques. Dedicated to reaching all levels and types of students, the program also is an outreach effort to students who otherwise would not find a home in other programs. Nwabude has completed a master’s degree in arts integration and is highly motivated to include arts in all aspects of a child’s education.

The award for Community or Public Service will be presented to Lee Rhyant. In addition to his responsibilities as executive vice president and general manager for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Marietta, Rhyant has been a strong advocate for nonprofit organizations, contributing his personal time and corporate support to many arts organizations. In Cobb County, he has supported Theatre in the Square, The Earl Smith Strand Theatre, Cobb Museum of Arts and the Aviation Wing of the Marietta Museum of History. He also supported the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Partners-In-Education program, which paired Lockheed Martin with four local schools. He has also served on the Georgia Council for the Arts and, through Lockheed, helped the South Cobb High School Blue Eagle Marching Band perform in the President’s Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C. Rhyant and his wife, Evelyn, recently served as the gala chairs for the 2010 Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre Annual Overture Gala.

The award for an Arts Organization will be presented to Theatre in the Square
. Now in its 29th season, it is one of the largest professional theaters in the state. The company has been acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, and has played a critical part in the redevelopment of Marietta Square. The company produces 10 plays (more than 330 performances) on two stages, and draws more than 50,000 people annually. Last season, the theatre swept metro Atlanta’s Suzi Bass Awards for excellence in professional theater, winning awards for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Play. Theatre in the Square remains committed to its partnerships in Cobb County, where it is an active member of the Chamber of Commerce and where its managing director is currently president of United Arts of Cobb.

Major sponsors of the 2010 Flourish Luncheon include Bullfrogz, The Color Spot, JoAnn Durham, Diann and Richard Labroff, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics and S.A. White Oil Company. The event is being organized by a volunteer committee that includes co-chairs Mike Feldberg and Mike Russell and committee members Steve Byrne, Kim Gresh and Chad Massaker. The recipients of Flourish Awards were selected by a committee that included Allen Bell, Linda Flournoy, Livvy Lipson, Mark Maguire and Marci Tate.

For more information about the luncheon, click the link at or call 770-499-3214.


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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 70 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including new doctorates in education, business and nursing. A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of more than 22,500 from 142 countries.

The KSU College of the Arts is one of only four Georgia institutions to have achieved full national accreditation for all of its arts departments.



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