Wednesday, January 18, 2012

TOP STORY >> Benefit will help build arts center

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville’s many talented performers and artists will show off their stuff Friday to celebrate the Chinese New Year, “The Year of the Dragon,” and raise money for a new Jacksonville arts center, which could be housed at the closed Jacksonville Elementary School.

The city is trying to work out a lease agreement with the Pulaski County Special School District for the property at 108 S. Oak St. off Main Street.

The plan is to have educational classrooms, a museum and an exhibition hall for the performing arts. The center would bring visual, musical, literary art and drama to youth and adult residents.

The main attraction at the Jacksonville Community Center is the Nanjing Acrobatic Troupe, an internationally known Chinese group. It will provide the event’s finale at 7:30 p.m.

Consul generals Wang Dong, Cai Lian and Xu Erwen of the People’s Republic of China’s consulate in Houston will be special guests.

The troupe was formed in December 1957. Its shows have South China characteristics and have won several awards.

The troupe has performed in about 120 cities in more than 30 countries since it was established. Its audiences have included 15 presidents, five prime ministers and 17 representatives of host countries.

Tickets for the performance are $20 for general admission, $5 for children ages 10 and under, $50 for a gold VIP ticket and $100 for a VIP ticket, which offer better seats for the show.

Tickets are being sold at Costume Corner, 80 Municipal Drive; Double “R” Florist, 918 W. Main St.; Unique Furniture, 638 W. Main St., and Jacksonville Guitar, 1101 Burman Drive.

All tickets, sponsorships and auction donations are tax-deductible. Proceeds will be donated to the arts center.

The Arkansas Asian Association and Unique Furniture are sponsoring the event.

Admission is free from 5:30 to 7 p.m., which is when entries in the cake-decorating contest and other items will be featured in a silent auction. The concession stand, operated by the Asian Pacific Resource and Cultural Center, will open at 5:30 p.m.

The silent auction items will include a costume, a guitar, a crystal vase, the works of local artists and more.

Entry forms for the contest can be found at Oliver’s Antiques, 1101 Burman Drive. There is a $10 registration fee and the prizes are $100 for first place, $50 for second place and $25 for third place.

Angie Mitchell of Costume Corner, the driving force behind the Patriotic Spectacular and one of the Chinese New Year event organizers, said there was so much interest from children that organizers decided to split the contest into two categories, adults and children ages 12 and under.

The opening ceremony for the event will feature the Little Rock Air Force Base Honor Guard.

Dr. Alan Storeygard, a local physician and concert pianist, will play with Dave Rogers and Brian Wolverton. Storeygard performed at Carnegie Hall in 2003, and his trio played there in April.

Also set to perform are professional ballroom dancers, Lisa Kirkpatrick and Darral Pogue; Pathfinder Academy director Tim Thomas and his students; choirs from Jacksonville High School and North Pulaski High School, and REAL (Rebecca, Emily, Abigail and Lydia) — four Jacksonville girls who play the accordion, penny pipe, harmonica and violin at the Rivermarket in Little Rock.

The Jacksonville Police Department will give away child ID kits and gunlocks. There will be several door prizes for those who attend the show. There will also be Kung Fu demonstrations.

The art of Jacksonville High School students, local artists and art collectors will be on display, too.

Others involved in the event include Sherry Oliver, Steve Evans, Roberta McGrath, Jacksonville High School coach Marvin Lindley, Joann Calhoun, Margaret River, Carl and Susan Rice, Sue Khoo of Unique Furniture, Sonya Clark, Larry Sansom, Araya Charles, Kay Danielson, Glenda Fletcher, Yolly Seedtibood, Mary Pelphrey, Kenya Wynne, Lucian Stockey, Henry Rainey, Tracee Rainey, Laura Harper and Wilma Houston.

Several of them attended the first meeting of the Jacksonville Arts Council last month. The council, Mitchell said, has applied to be a corporation and is working toward achieving nonprofit status.

“We’ve got to start somewhere. We’re hoping whatever is raised will help us get this (center),” she added.