JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Before there was a city of Johns Creek, there were the arts in Johns Creek. Dance, fine art, music and theater not only stimulate the mind but help create an awareness of place that is Johns Creek.
With the city’s incorporation, the arts have continued to grow – nurtured by seven women who have set as a mission to promote all of the visual, performing and cultural arts to raise the quality of life in the Johns Creek area. The seven women who came together to create the Arts Alliance of Johns Creek are already full-time administrators of their individual nonprofit arts organizations with all the headaches and responsibilities that they entail.
Sue Haggerty, executive director of the Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra,
Kitty Garrison, executive director of Atlanta Dance Theater,
Margarita Moldovan, artistic director of Performing Arts North,
Dorato Lato, president and founder of Chopin Society of Atlanta,
Gail Hisle, executive director of the Johns Creek Art Center,
Joan Compton, Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center Board vice president,
Linda Johnson, founder and president of Johns Creek Beautification Inc.
These women are the backbone of the organizations that are raising arts consciousness in the community.
Five years ago, these ladies came together to form the Arts Alliance and play off the synergies that would create a common identity for the Johns Creek area as a center for the arts.
“There was a flurry of meetings, ideas and action to make this come together,” said the JC Symphony’s Haggerty who also chairs the Arts Alliance. “Everybody is already so busy running a viable organization. But we see opportunities that will allow all arts organizations to become stronger.”
Garrison of Atlanta Dance Theater agrees. It is a way to promote all the arts, she said. That led to the Arts Alliance Village with all of the arts under one tent at Arts on the Creek last year.
“As we grow stronger together, the more visibility we have – and the louder our voice becomes,” said Chopin Society’s Lato.
Another catalyst for the arts, the Alliance Board, has been the emergence of the Verizon Amphitheatre, which gives all of North Fulton legitimacy as an arts center.
“But that still points to a big hole for all of us. We need a performing arts center, we all need a venue,” said Moldovan, of Performing Arts North.
Nevertheless, the Arts Alliance has become a force in the community. The board members, all women, were asked why that was so?
Moldovan said it is that nurturing instinct that continues on even after the children go on to college.
“Women roll up their sleeves when a job needs doing. It’s a PTA thing,” said Haggerty.
In arts organizations, it is usually the men who are the artists and the women who are organized, said Garrison.
Moldovan added, “We’re willing to learn what we don’t know.”
The arts are a male-dominated field. But driving the organizations that support them are driven by “amazing women who do a lot with a little money, and do it quickly,” said Haggerty.
Meanwhile, these ladies continue to hunt around for venues, scrape for nickels and dimes to keep the lights turned on and the tickets printed. It is no easy path to make a living in the arts. You have to do more than love what you do. You must be driven to do it.
And these women are driven too.
“This is our legacy. That is our motivation for doing this,” said Johnson of Johns Creek Beautification.