The theme of colorful umbrellas for Spring for the Arts 2021 proved more felicitous than organizers imagined while planning the event, as the sound of raindrops provided the accompaniment for a live jazz band at the Creative Arts Guild on Saturday.
"Now it looks like we planned it this way," Amanda Brown, executive director of the Guild, said with a laugh. "For years, I'd been looking at what various cities around the world have done with umbrellas in their alleyways, and I figured 'It's April, a rainy month, let's go for it.'"
A canopy of rainbow umbrellas greeted attendees as they walked into the Guild, with additional colorful umbrellas hanging overhead in the Guild's pavilion, where the Clint Schmitt Jazz Band, Cyra's-catered brunch, cocktails, raffles and prizes were among the attractions.
"It's a fun event," said Kayla Anderson, one of Saturday's attendees. "The rain won't keep us away."
Saturday was also International Sculpture Day, so attendees were invited to take docent-guided tours of the Robert T. Webb Sculpture Garden, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary by having added 10 new pieces recently to bring its total to 56. The sculpture garden, which is open from dawn to dusk with no admission fee, was rated by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2017 as one of the six best places in the South to see outdoor sculpture.
The garden has become a bona fide "draw, and the additions we've made only inspire future opportunities," Webb, the garden’s founder and curator, said this past fall. "There's nothing like this sculpture garden anywhere else in Georgia."
In prior editions, Spring for the Arts was a luncheon and fashion show, and it was held at various locations, including The Farm, but this year returned to its roots at the Guild, and was an effort to be "more inclusive," said Cindy McCreery, longtime co-chair of Spring for the Arts. "We were limited to about 200 people before, and we wanted to take it more outside, too."
"We've flipped (Spring for the Arts) on its head completely," Brown said. "Who doesn't love some swanky jazz in a garden (setting) with champagne cocktails?"
"I like it," Anderson said. "A little change never hurt anyone, and it's great just to be out and about."
The Guild "is a wonderful place to have Spring for the Arts, and (having it here) emphasizes the importance of the Guild," McCreery said. "It's a great idea, and I hope it takes off."
April Bennett, one of Saturday's attendees, concurred.
"I really like it, because it feels more like a Guild vibe, having it here," she said. "I hate that it's raining today, because I wish people could (explore) the sculpture garden, but it's definitely a good vibe here, and I like it."
Proceeds from Spring for the Arts benefit the Guild’s Arts in Education programs, including internal education classes and workshops in dance, visual arts, culinary arts and music; field trips; arts scholarships; the annual Student Arts Expo; and Creative Connections — the newest Arts in Education venture — an annual professional development conference for area school arts educators in all arts disciplines, according to the Guild. It also includes the partnership with the O.N. Jonas Foundation, which provides Artists in Residence opportunities for area students.
Arts in Education is "very important to us," said McCreery, who has been involved with the Guild in various capacities for more than three decades. "The arts are so important, and the Guild is a vital part of this community."
Anderson is a regular attendee of Spring for the Arts, as she believes in "the cause" of arts education, she said. "We have the same ideas, and I have a 3-year-old, so (youth arts education) is very important to me."
Bennett expressed similar sentiments, noting her 12-year-old daughter, Alyssa, "does ballet with the Creative Arts Guild, and she really enjoys it."
"It's a really big part of her life, and like her second family, so when I support the Guild, I feel like I'm supporting my daughter, too," said Bennett, who has volunteered with the Guild and regularly attends events like Spring for the Arts. "It's fun to buy some raffle tickets" at Spring for the Arts "even if you don't win."
"You don't feel bad if you lose," Anderson seconded with a laugh. "You're still supporting the Guild."
Last spring, the Guild had to cancel Spring for the Arts mere days before it was scheduled to be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but few, if any, individuals asked for refunds, and most sponsors likewise let their money "float with us, which we appreciate," Brown said. "It helped us bridge the gap."
"It was extremely hard for us not to do (Spring for the Arts) last year, because this is what we do," Brown said. "It feeds us, so we're excited to be back."
"Rain or shine, we don't care," she added. "This is a happy day, and our staff will be on a high after today."