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Showcase event helps local charity

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

On Nov. 30, The Henry Arts Alliance, Inc., will sponsor its Fifteenth Annual "Christmas with the Arts," in order to showcase the county's various arts groups and art forms.

"It's a way of letting the county have a taste of all the different arts," said Elaine Childs, the executive director of the non-profit Alliance. "We try to do it early, at the beginning of the Christmas season, because it's just a good family-oriented program."

The event serves dual purposes. In past years, the Alliance has collected donations to help local charities. This year is no different. The Alliance is asking event-goers to donate an item of goods - from canned foods to toilet paper - to be distributed to the Helping in His Name Ministries, Inc., Food Pantry in Stockbridge.

This year, the Alliance is partnering with the Henry Players to collect the canned foods for the food pantry. The Players are currently performing "Papa's Angels," a stage play about a close-knit North Carolina family surviving hardships during Christmas.

"I think that's a great connection to make this holiday season," said Lynna Schmidt, artistic director for Christmas with the Arts.

Schmidt, who helped develop the charity partnership, said the goods collected during the event will be used to help supply needy families, in and around, the Henry County community.

Schmidt, also the Alliance president, will be the mistress of ceremony during the "Christmas with the Arts" event.

This year's event will feature performances in dance, theater, music, literature/spoken word, and visual arts, including: The Dance Academy, which has studios in Stockbridge and McDonough; Eagle's Landing Dance Company in Stockbridge;the Henry Players; the Heritage Writers' Group in McDonough; the McDonough Presbyterian Church Choirs; Tumble 'N Dance Studio in McDonough; Upstage Dance, which has studios in Ellenwood and McDonough; and the Visual Artists Collective in Henry County.

Visual Artists Collective, a group of local artists, will sponsor an adult art show and art contest during the event. The art show will be displayed in the lobby of the Henry County Performing Arts Center, where the event will be held. Audience members will have a chance to help pick the "people's choice best of show" winner from the contest entries.

"My hope is that if people see something like this, they'll want to go see something else affiliated with the arts in Henry," Schmidt said. "I truly believe what makes Henry County great is all the arts that are available. It's a way to give people a taste of all the great stuff that's available in Henry County."

Christmas with the Arts events began in 1992 with founder Edward Bridges, and has been held annually with the exception of two years. The event continues to be one of several annual events sponsored by the Alliance. Others include the High School Arts Contest in March, the Exploring the Arts Summer Camp for Children in June, the Fall Festival of Storytelling in October, and a new addition this year, a Visual Arts Camp in June.

Christmas with the Arts will be held Nov. 30, at 3 p.m., in the Henry County Performing Arts Center, located at 37 Lemon St., in McDonough. Tickets are $5 at all Moye's Pharmacies, UPS store locations in Stockbridge, and at the four dance studios participating in the event. Tickets will also be available at the door for $5.

"[Christmas with the Arts] is a tradition that's lasted this long, and it's really exciting," Schmidt added. "It's a really great way to start the holidays. What I like about being able to do this is that people don't realize, for instance, that there is a Heritage Writers' Group."

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On the net:

Henry Arts Alliance: www.henryartsalliance.org

Visual Artists Collective: www.visualartistscollective.com