When I was a junior at LaGrange High School and the prospect of studying journalism started to settle in as my pursuit for the “real world,” I knew what I was going to do. I wanted to go work for Revolver, “The world’s loudest rock magazine” as it proclaimed.
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
It was that initial drive to report on the creative process that drew me into journalism, though. My original intent to hang out on the tour bus of bands like Slayer and talk about the recording process for their latest record didn’t pan out, but there is still a little thrill I get when I get to look “behind the scenes” of creativity at work.
Doing stories on the current offerings by the Lafayette Society for Performing Arts, or even the local schools’ fall concerts provides a glimpse into all the hard work and preparation that goes into a finished production. Art and museum exhibits showcase pieces that are a moment in time, whether historical or the look into the vision of an artist in the moment, and I also enjoy looking at the motivation and meaning behind the exhibits.
There are also the numerous musical groups around town, from LaGrange Symphony Orchestra and its many offshoots to the Sons of Lafayette and Choral Society of West Georgia, which all involve musically talented and creative people coming together for concerts. I know I’m missing some things, but those are just off the top of my head and brings me to my point: I’ve heard it said many times, but we really do have so many artistic and cultural offerings in LaGrange, especially for a town our size.
That focus on the arts and dedication to it is why the community has fought hard to keep it in schools despite continued budget cutbacks. It’s why the non-profit groups like LSPA and LSO can continue to operate with generous support from people in the community.
One great example is in a story I’m currently working on about the costume campaign for the LSPA production of “The Nutcracker.” The show celebrates 30 years in LaGrange this year, and a years-long campaign to refurbish the costumes used in the production – some of the costumes still used date back to the first show – is, organizers hope, in its last stretch.
Much of the $75,000 goal has been contributed, and all by people and groups that want to see this artistic production continue in town.
When I “stalked” state first lady Sandra Deal around town on Wednesday, I got to see her engage young children at two schools in a book that was written by a 90-year-old woman and illustrated by the author’s 6-year-old great granddaughter. What I noticed is that the kids seemed truly intrigued when they found out that a child almost their age was behind the artwork.
While reading the book, Deal emphasized the art to engage the pre-k and kindergarten students. Even though they weren’t old enough to read, she got them to follow along by pointing out the drawings and getting the children to verbalize what they saw.
Later, talking to Deal and two committee members for councils over the arts for the entire state, I was truly surprised how much they were impressed with LaGrange and its artistic offerings. Much like West Point Lake, I think it’s a local resource those of us who have lived here most or all of our lives seem to take for granted.
I ended up in a discussion with a couple of people who mentioned that youth would never say in LaGrange that they had nothing to do. I mentioned that complaint actually was pretty common here, but realized most people might not think to send their children to explore the art museum, to check out the history shown off at the Legacy Museum or Explorations in Antiquity Center, or sit them down for a local stage production or concert.
Obviously, most children wouldn’t take that as their first – maybe even last – choice of ways to spend time, but it would be more beneficial than driving to Auburn to outlet shop, or Columbus to play arcade games and eat pizza. I also think many parents might be surprised at what their children might actually find interesting. I remember my parents taking me to see a production of “The Nutcracker” when we lived in Greensboro, N.C., which means I was between 4 and 7 years old, and I truly enjoyed it.
So, if you haven’t taken the opportunity to check out some of the artistic offerings, you’re missing out. And to further eliminate your excuses, here are a few things coming up in the coming weeks:
• Lafayette Society for Performing Arts presents “Sex Please, We’re Sixty” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the LSPA Black Box Theater at 214 Bull St.
• LaGrange Symphony Orchestra presents “Celebrating Our American Harmony,” featuring a performance by Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concertmaster David Coucheron, at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Callaway Auditorium on the LaGrange College campus.
• The Choral Society of West Georgia will perform “We Gather Together” a concert of praise and Thanksgiving on Nov. 24 at 5:30 p.m. in the sanctuary of The First Presbyterian Church in downtown LaGrange.
• Lafayette Ballet Company presents “The Nutrcracker” at 7 p.m. Dec. 6 and 7 and 2 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Troup High School Fine Arts Auditorium.