On December 14, 2021 a gathering of about 50 people attended the opening of the new home of the Emanuel County Arts Council and the Neil Kalmanson Art Gallery.
Ken Warnock of the Emanuel County Development Authority/Chamber of Commerce welcomed everyone to the event and indicated that when demolition began, some small footprints in the cement were found, which were probably from the children of the workers of the original theater more than 100 years ago. He then turned the program over to Mayor Charles Schwabe, who joked that Denny Key said they were probably his footprints.
Mayor Schwabe continued by saying, “It’s just great to be here. We finally done it. We’ve finally gotten it finished. We worked and waited and waited and worked, and I think finally this very worthy organization has a home.”
He continued by recognizing Ken Warnock, Jacquie Brasher, Randy Youmans and his construction crew, Swainsboro City Council members present Rita Faulkner and John Parker, and so many other people who had to buy into this project with donations and work. Schwabe indicated that it would not only provide a springboard for this arts council but was also the first completed stage of the theater project, which in itself is a big accomplishment.
He went on to thank the chamber of commerce staff, Lynn Brinson, as well as Willie Butler who Mayor Schwabe said had been over at the project more than anyone else and does a fantastic job for the city.
He ended his comments by thanking the arts council members from the past and the present and “especially those who will follow in the future because that’s what counts. It will be up to them to utilize the space and recruit new talent to become a part of the arts council.
Brasher then thanked everyone for attending the event and joked it would actually make a great apartment. The space is for the community and pledged to have more art shows in the future. Because the gallery is named the Neil Kalmanson Gallery, it was only fitting that his work be displayed. There was also a bronze bust of the late mayor of Swainsboro, Jim Buckley, that Kalmanson created for Buckley’s wife, Imogene, who was in attendance as she donated it to the gallery.
Brasher ended her remarks by stating it has been a community effort and as she tells everyone, “It takes a village to raise an arts council, and we did.”
Final comments were made by arts council president Kenny Griffin, who stated he appreciated all the support that was generated to make this possible. He continued that the arts council was excited about the new space and the opportunities it would create in the future. He recognized Brasher for spearheading the efforts and keeping it on track. Griffin concluded, “This is a great opportunity for Swainsboro and Emanuel County and the future of arts in our city and county.”
Pictures were then taken of the assembled group who all took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony. Light refreshments were enjoyed along with music.