Oglethorpe County Schools Struggle with Art Budget

LEXINGTON, Ga. – Funding for the arts in Georgia schools has been dropping rapidly since 2011. To help make up for the deficit in Oglethorpe County, the Oglethorpe County Chamber of Commerce is partnering with local schools for its second annual Art Makes Sense student art exhibit and auction.

“We were astounded last year at the amount of money we were able to raise with just school kids’ art,” said Chip Rosenthal, who is volunteering at the event for the second time this year. “To raise $4000 was a big deal.”

Oglethorpe County Primary School, Oglethorpe County Elementary School, Oglethorpe County Middle School and Oglethorpe County High School each received $1000 from the event in 2016. This year Linda Parish hopes to raise even more.

Parish is the Tourism and Hospitality Director for the Chamber of Commerce. She has a passion for the arts, especially for art education in schools. The former interior designer started the exhibit and auction last year to help ease the burden of providing arts education to students.

“We have had really good participation from the students and the teachers,” said Parish. “These teachers are the ones who have to go out and scrounge stuff up and buy things with their own money, so every little bit we raise helps.”

At this year’s auction, guests will be able to bid on more than 100 original paintings, pieces of jewelry and pottery thanks to Oglethorpe County students. Primary and elementary school classes typically submit one piece that each student contributed to while middle and high school students submit their own individual works of art.

Parish’s grandson is in second grade, and has worked on two different pieces for this year’s show.

“Those silver lines, I painted those,” he proudly told his grandmother.

There is a wide variety of artwork throughout the exhibit. Visitors and volunteers like Rosenthal already have their eyes on a few of the pieces.

“I’ll just wander around and see something new every time I go through the room,” said Rosenthal. “Even if I stand in front of a piece for five minutes talking to someone I may not notice it right away.”

The exhibit will be open until February 15 on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The big event will take place on February 16 with refreshments at 5:30 p.m. and the auction beginning at 7 p.m.

By: Mary Carol Butterfield

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