Roswell Arts Community Wants Larger Footprint

ROSWELL, GA – Roswell’s glitterati and literati gathered March 13 at River Landing on the Chattahoochee to welcome a new organization dedicated to making Roswell a leader in the arts in the Atlanta area.

Called the Roswell Arts Fund, it has sprung from the Roswell Arts Commission which, frankly, just moved too slowly to suit its members. Rochelle Mucha is chairwoman of the new Roswell Arts Fund, and Arts Commission board member.

“We’re having a fundraiser and a coming-out party to brand the Arts Fund as the arts agency for the city,” Mucha said.

As part of that kickoff, 10 pieces of public art have been sponsored for sites around Roswell. Several have already started to spring up in Roswell parks.

One is Early Hatch, (see cover) by Joey Manson. It is inspired by flying aquatic insects that lay eggs as they dive into the water. The eggs remain in the water until ready to emerge. Early Hatch exemplifies the life cycle, and appropriately enough has been erected in Don White Park.

Michael Curling, president of New Kent Capital (which presides over many Canton Street properties), sponsored the kickoff event.

He supports the mission of Roswell Arts Fund to not only make the city the first lady of the arts in North Fulton, but to bring a performing arts center to Roswell that would be a multidisciplinary home for performing and visual arts.

“Art plays an important role in the community,” Curling said. “It gives it vibrancy and culture.”

Public art is a way to connect with the greatest number of residents to get them thinking about the arts, Mucha said. ArtAroundRoswell.org is its website.

“But this is just the first initiative for Roswell Arts Fund. Over the next three months there will be more,” she said.

Arts Fund board member Marie Willsey said all 10 public art sculptures will be erected by April 15 in locations in every part of the city.

“Roswell must and should become an arts destination and insinuate the arts into the very fabric of the city,” Mucha said. “To do this, we must tap into Roswell’s culture of philanthropy to find and fulfill initiatives.”

The transformative catalyst will be a performing arts center, she said.

The Roswell Arts Fund had a special guest, Lawrenceville’s Aurora Theatre Artistic Director Anthony Rodriguez, to talk about what a theater or performing arts center can do for a community.

Aurora Theatre got its start in 1996 in a former Duluth hardware store, but Lawrenceville recruited Rodriguez to come to that city. It was a slow beginning but today he has 5,200 season ticket holders and a $2 million budget.

He is also chairman of the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce, the largest in Georgia. Why? Because the arts are proven to be good for business.

“Our theater has transformed downtown Lawrenceville. Today it has a dozen or more restaurants. And the activity spurs more business downtown. It has been a great partnership for the city and its businesses and for my theater,” Rodriguez said.

Roswell has so many assets, it is a “no brainer” for the city to become an arts incubator, he said.

Mucha said the evening’s fundraiser was “the beginning of a movement.”

Roswell Arts Fund board member Mike Harris said the goal was to be “a presence in Roswell.”

“We’re creating a model for getting things done,” Harris said. “Roswell is a great city, but it can be greater. And we are going to show it how.”

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