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New arts council ready to take flight
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The Effingham Arts Council is back.

After several years of inactivity, the Arts Council held an organizational meeting last Thursday to get going again. The group that came together included some previous members and many new faces as well.

Marsha Lott, a professional artist and current art teacher at Ebenezer Middle School, was elected chairman and is joined by a number of community leaders in re-establishing the Council.

Effingham Schools Assistant Superintendent Greg Arnsdorff will serve as vice chair and Citizens Bank VP Barbara Oglesby will be secretary/treasurer for the group.

Other board members will include: Effingham Hospital CEO Norma Jean Morgan, Tess Hynes of the Effingham Chamber, Rincon city planner LaMeisha Hunter, Rick Terrell of Coca Cola, Andrea Huff of the Effingham Community Orchestra, Emma Singleton, local artist, Ann Smith Wilson, Rincon Elementary art teacher Heather Light, Ebenezer Middle School drama teacher Lori Benassi-Parker and Tamara Tyre with the Effingham Theatre. These elections were for an initial organizational six-month period, with regular term elections to be held at the end of that term.

The group laid out plans for programming for the first six months and those plans include a February photography contest and exhibition, an acoustic music festival, a spring arts and crafts exhibit, as well as a professional summer art camp. The board is examining various sites around the county that could be venues for these and other programs. The group has a need for a filing cabinet and other office needs and is asking the community to consider donations to help the council get started.

Effingham Industrial Development Authority CEO, John Henry will serve as an ex-officio member.

“The presence of cultural arts is a significant tool in recruiting new industries to any area,” he said. “When discussing quality of life issues and cultural amenities with corporate officials, we are usually required to discuss what is available in the Savannah area. With a strong arts council and a good program here in our community, we are more apt to recruit headquarters type operations. This area is already known for its cultural aspects, and we need a way to bolster that here in Effingham.”  

Plans for the board call for ex-officio seats for each of the cities and for the county and IDA. Rick Lott, elected to be the council’s executive director, has been a non-profit executive director for nearly 20 years. He said he thinks there is a great desire for more arts programming in our area.

He said the vision for this new arts council is to grow to the point where not only will the council itself provide programming throughout the county, but that it would grow to the point where it can help fund some of the other arts organizations already working in the county.

“I would like to be able to provide some funding to the Community Orchestra, the Effingham Theatre, and even to some of our individual performers and artists,” he said.

Membership levels will be geared to individuals, families and businesses. Committees will be working over the next few months on membership and programming and the next board meeting was set for April 9, the second Friday in April.

Meetings will be held on a quarterly basis. Anyone interesting in membership can send an email to: or call (912) 228-2028.