The State of the “Arts” at Lake Oconee

Riezl Baker  |  March 2, 2020

Over the past 20+ years, I have worked with many clients who decided to move to the area because of it’s unparalleled amenities, great quality of life and cultural landscape. The arts at Lake Oconee, located in central Georgia just east of Atlanta, continues to thrive, making our community a more vibrant and cultured place to both visit and live.

Growing up in a metropolitan city known for it’s rich culture, I recognize not only the economic impact, but also the social importance of the arts in a community. From plays to concerts, the arts brings people together by providing an avenue for citizens to share an experience. Economically, studies have confirmed that places with a greater supply of cultural activities have attracted more people to move to that area. Having lived in Lake Oconee for nearly 20 years, I have seen the impressive evolution of the arts and culture in our community, including the opening of Festival Hall in downtown Greensboro. This historic performing ad visual arts facility opened it’s doors in 2010 and even caught national attention with a visit from former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura. President Bush later quoted that “the appreciation of the arts serve both as a unifying force in a society and as a vehicle for individual expression.”
Aside from hosting a variety of quality concerts and shows, Festival Hall also provides opportunities for local children to express themselves through annual children programs. Recently, my 14-year-old daughter participated in a summer theater camp and was a part of a spectacular production of “Peter Pan.”
The Plaza Arts Center, another notable venue in the area, is located in the beautiful historic district of Eatonton, and has also provided an outstanding level of entertainment and talent to the community. In addition to Festival Hall and The Plaza Arts Center, there are an array of non-profit organizations that anchor the development efforts of the Arts in our local community. Among them are:
  • OPAS –Oconee Performing Arts Society -founded in 2007, OPAS’s mission is to enrich our regional community by bringing top-quality performing arts to the area. OPAS has brought the likes of Michael Feinstein, the Ratpack and Brass Transit just to name a few. They also believe in engaging the local youth by bringing the performing arts to over 4,000 schoolchildren every year.
  • PAPA- Putnam Alliance for the Performing Arts- a non-profit founded in 1978 to provide performance opportunities for local talents. PAPA oversees the programming and operation of The Plaza Arts and engages the community in their production.
  • The Lake Country Players-established in 2011, The Lake Country Players’ mission is to create opportunities for adults and children in the community to enjoy family-friendly entertainment and theater involvement.
Aside from performing arts venues and shows, there are also numerous exhibitions throughout the year by experienced artists and local artisans.
As shown by the growth of our community, the presence of a strong arts program is essential to our area. Many years ago, my kids were in the OPAS production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I” at The Plaza Arts Center. I sat beside a couple who marveled at the Broadway-quality production. They just moved to Lake Oconee and could hardly believe they were sitting and watching a show of this caliber in “small town” Georgia. It was a special moment for me. I was proud of my children’s performances, and I was proud to call this “small town”, in Georgia… our “home”.

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