On Oct. 8, the arts in Georgia took another severe step backwards with the shuttering of the third professional arts organization to close in as many years.

First, the beloved Theatre in the Square in Marietta after 30 years of operation, followed by the venerated Theatre of the Stars at the Fox after 60 years.

And now one of Atlanta’s most cherished theater companies, Georgia Shakespeare at the Conant Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Oglethorpe University has ended its 29-year run.

In the meantime, as of this writing, Symphony Hall at the Woodruff Arts Center remains empty and dark as the center staff and ASO musicians make their entry into federal mediation.

We believe the circumstances have now become critical. It is time for all of us to step up and pitch in if there is to be a healthy and vibrant arts community in this major metropolis of Atlanta for us, our children and grandchildren.

This is not just about the artists; this is about and for you!

For the arts to thrive in our community, and more importantly to create something that is sustainable, it is essential that we take action.

Really, it is so easy to do.

Here are four things you can do to ensure that next year will not bring another arts organization announcing: “Ceased Operations.” The soul of our city is at stake.

1. Participate. As an audience member, you are part of the dialogue that makes our work possible. Do a favor for yourself and the arts: treat yourself to the pleasure of attending an arts event somewhere in Atlanta. Bring a guest to the theater who perhaps has never attended. Of course, we hope you’ll visit Georgia Ensemble Theatre, but if you need some additional ideas, give us a call. We’ll be happy to help.

2. Volunteer. Every hour you pitch in and provide a volunteer service – from handing out programs at a show to donating pro-bono accounting – to a professional nonprofit arts organization reduces the bottom line of operations. And it’s fun!

3. Donate $$$. This is a win-win for everyone involved. Adding a donation to your ticket purchase or making one independently not only ensures that your favorite theater and others will thrive, but it is also fully tax deductible. And, it’s fun! You feel good, and so do we.

4. Advocate. This is so vitally important. Simply … speak up! Let your friends, neighbors, civic leaders and places you shop know that you are a Georgia arts supporter – and that you are proud of it and better for it.

Robert J. Farley

Artistic director, Georgia Ensemble Theatre

Roswell

Robert J. (Bob) Farley is the co-founder of the Georgia Ensemble Theatre and Conservatory and has been the artistic director since its inception in 1992. He has been a vital part of the Atlanta theater scene for more than a quarter century, beginning in the late 1980s as artistic director of the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre at the Woodruff Arts Center. In recent years, his work has been seen elsewhere including the Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, Gainesville Theatre Alliance, Hilton Head, South Carolina and here in Atlanta at Theatrical Outfit, and Theatre in The Square. Phone number: 770-641-1260 (daytime).

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