Column: Cobb Centre launches ArtsBridge with new name, identity

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on November 7, 2014

When the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre opened in 2007, there was a parallel nonprofit foundation with a similar name established to provide arts education and outreach.

Now, seven years later, as a way to enhance its own identity, the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre Foundation has changed its name to the ArtsBridge Foundation.

It also has launched a new website and a new logo to go along with its new name.

Actually the ArtsBridge name is what the Cobb Energy Arts Centre Foundation had already been calling its educational outreach programs, so the name change actually will remove confusion and align the foundation’s name with its activities.

“There was not really a distinction between the Arts Centre and the Foundation,” said Michele Swann, general manager and CEO of the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibit Hall Authority. “The venue is a for-profit entity, and the Foundation is a nonprofit. Arts Bridge was existing from Day 1 as a brand, and the true brand equity resided as Arts Bridge.”

John Williams, a developer who was instrumental in getting the $145 million Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre built, said that the authority had always envisioned that there would be an educational component to the complex.

“It was always programmed that a good bit of money be used for educational purposes,” Williams said.

So every time a ticket is sold to the venue, $1 goes to the Foundation. It also holds other fund-raising events, and it has several donors and sponsors for its annual offerings and special programs.

“We serve 30,000 to 40,000 kids a year,” said Natalie Barrow, director of arts education and community outreach for the ArtsBridge Foundation. She joined the Foundation in August after serving as the artist partnership manager with Young Audiences at the Woodruff Arts Center.

ArtsBridge serves students from schools from 30 Georgia counties as well as students from Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina.

It also holds the prestigious Shuler Awards, a Tony-like music awards show for high school students from the 20-county metro area. The show was launched by musician Shuler Hensley, a Marietta native who wanted to give back to his hometown. The Georgia Lottery is a sponsor of the Shuler Awards show, which is broadcast on WSB-TV.

Swann said the Foundation has annual revenues of about $700,000. It is now closing out its fiscal year, and it expects to have a record year – beating out its previous best year in 2008.

Williams, who is proud that both the Cobb Galleria Centre and the Cobb Energy Center are operating at a profit, called Swann “a scholar in doing this right.”

He continues to serve on the Foundation’s board, which includes several of the top leaders in Cobb County — Jack Ward as president; Sylvia Dick (daughter of Wilton Looney) as vice president; Larry Dingle as secretary-treasurer, Barbarella Diaz; Kessel Stelling; Jerry Nix and Clare Richardson, to name a few.

Since its inception in 2007, ArtsBridge has served more than 240,000 students. Nearly 6,000 students and teachers received free admission to field trips, master classes and the Shulers during the 2013-2014 season.

GSU’s Sheroes of the Year

Georgia State University Library’s Women and Gender Collections will honor two special Atlanta women as part of its annual “Sheroes of the Year Event” on Nov. 20.

The two women are Alicia Philipp, president of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta; and Joyce Dunaway Parker, founder and the first president of Girls Inc. of Greater Atlanta.

The two are being celebrated for their “power of purpose and persistence.”

The 2014 Sheroes of the Year event will take place at GSU Centennial Hall at 100 Auburn Ave. from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The awards are presented annually to individuals whose work and accomplishments have made an impact on gender equality in Georgia and the South, improving the lives of women and girls. Those lives are documented in GSU’s Women and Gender Collections, and the event raises money to help support those collections.

Philipp has been leading the Community Foundation for the past 37 years, growing its assets from $7 million in 1977 to more than $929 million today. The Community Foundation serves donors and nonprofits in 23 metro Atlanta counties. In addition to her day job, Philipp devotes much of her free time mentoring future leaders.

In addition to being the founder of Girls Inc. in Atlanta, Parker also served as vice president of the national organization’s board. She was a charter member and rape counselor for the Cobb County Rape Crisis Center.

She was a three-term president of ERAGeorgia, and she has also been president of the League of Women Voters of Cobb-Marietta, and a member of Emily’s List and the NAACP.

Honduras president’s visit

Juan Orlando Hernandez, the president of Honduras, and the First Lady of Honduras will be in Atlanta on Nov. 13 to celebrate 25 years of HOI (Honduras Outreach) — a transformational effort by a dedicated group of Atlanta volunteers to improve the health, education, agriculture and business in Honduras, the second-poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. President Hernandez will speak at an invitation-only breakfast that morning at the Piedmont Driving Club being sponsored by Greenberg Traurig LLP and the Georgia Chamber. Then he will speak at a lunch at Chick-fil-A Inc.’s headquarters.

And then that evening, at the Decatur Marriott Courtyard and Conference Center, there will be an evening of celebration of the transformation that has taken place over the 25 years since Jerry Eickhoff, Archie Crenshaw and Joe Glenn first traveled over a muddy mountain trail in rural Honduras. “That trip became the genesis of an organization which was to change thousands of lives” in both North and Central America, Eickhoff wrote in a remembrance of HOI’s beginnings.

Camp Kudzu

Camp Kudzu has named Mary Chatman to its board of directors. Chatman is the senior vice president and COO at Memorial University Health Medical Center in Savannah, where she leads several divisions responsible for providing direct care to patients. Chatman holds a doctorate in nursing, a master of science in nursing administration, and a bachelor of science in nursing from East Carolina University.

Her daughter, Jasmine, attended Camp Kudzu after she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2008. Since then, Chatman has helped provide 24 children from the Savannah area with the opportunity to attend Camp Kudzu.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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