Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Congratulations...let the work begin

Today is a banner day for Augusta's Downtown District. Today with the hard work of many talented people, visionaries and optimistic stakeholders, the Business Improvement District Proposal received the mandated votes needed to present the BID to our County Commissioners for approval.

This, my friends, is a VERY good day for the downtown district and all that live, work and play here. Awesome things are about to happen to help ensure economic viability, community growth and personal safety in our epicenter called downtown Augusta.

The citizens, business owners and patrons of Augusta's downtown district send you a warm heartfelt "Thank You" for everyone involved in the process.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Junk art scam

The hottest thing on the contemporary art market today is Chinese Art. As the director of the Mary Pauline Gallery I decided to go to Beijing and take a look. (although Shanghai has gotten most of the press I figured there is equally wonderful work in Beijing) Anyway, I go down to breakfast my first morning and my father has already been out on the streets and approached by some "art students" who are having a show that will end in one hour..so we must forget breakfast and hurry. I politely told them that we would see them in 45 minutes. I know from my experience in DC that they will be willing to sell the work QUICK at closing rather than packing it up and attempting to get the work back. All through breakfast I am overwhelmed with excitement. Upon arriving at the art show my disappointment is almost immediate. The work is decorative at best. Not contemporary cutting edge work from art students in Beijing! Well after about 15 minutes we left. Luckily my gut was right. The art students at the Forbidden City had the same work, and so did the artists selling "art" at The Wall. I would love to see the factory that produced the work. Trust your instincts when buying art!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Music Along the River

Celebrate Memorial Day weekend with not just one but two concerts--both of which are outside. There is just something about spending a beautiful evening outside along the river listening to great music.

On Sunday, May 27, grab a blanket or chair (maybe a picnic, too) and head down to the 8th Street Bulkhead for the Candlelight Jazz Series. Local jazz duo quietSTORM will fill the air with their own brand of smooth jazz. Admission is $6. The concert is from 8 - 9:30 p.m.

On Monday evening, May 28, the Augusta Concert band presents its annual Memorial Day tribute concert on the river. Admission is FREE. The 7 p.m. concert is at the Jessye Norman Amphitheatre.

Call 706.821.1754 for more information about either of these concerts.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Put in Your B.I.D.

A better quality of life through:
Cleaner streets.
A safer and more vibrant hub of activity.
A greater sense of pride in your community.
Graffiti removal.
Safety patrols.

Augusta will experience all this and MORE with the Business Improvement District. Affectionately known as B.I.D..

Downtown revitalization advocates from cities such as Columbus, Columbia, Knoxville, Charlotte and Atlanta already get it. They understood the impact of a B.I.D. and are currently realizing their city's potential. There are more than 1,500 cities across the country that have Business Improvement Districts and are enjoying the tremendous impact of private sector creativity toward persistent public problems.

The strength of the B.I.D. is that revenue generated from the B.I.D. would enhance current services and not replace them. Estimated revenue to be generated for Augusta's B.I.D. is $349,000. This is based on participation of stake holders of the nearly $131,000,000 in commercial property in the defined district. What's great about this is - those that pay the assessment through a petition will govern the funds. Money will be managed by and flow through a non-profit organization established by the stakeholders.

This is a definite WIN-WIN for our community and long over due. Get involved - be informed and help make Augusta's B.I.D. a shining example of Public/Private partnerships.

You can learn more about the Business Improvement District and how to get involved by contacting the Downtown Development Authority.

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Outsider

I know you guys have missed me, but personal matters have taken me out of the fray!

Sounds like great things are happening in downtown Augusta. Three exciting announcements were made this month: The possibility of a new baseball stadium, the new plans for the JB Whites Building, and a birthday celebration for the soul general. Starbucks? 40 something new condominiums? Peanuts and cracker jacks? Rhythm and Soul on Broad Street? There is a sense of excitement in the air and it is nice to see folks excited for a change.

Which brings me to another point…maybe that Branding Committee knew what they were doing…baseball bats swinging on the river front and folks swinging to music in the Common. Downtown Augusta is in Full Swing.!!!

I once again applaud Deke and this month and applaud a group that is working hard for downtown Augusta, the Downtown Development Authority. . A source tells me that their board meeting this month resulted in some very exciting projects:
  • Such as a $100,000 pilot lighting project…the 900 block of Broad will get 16 new light poles:
  • 10th Street streetscape…new sidewalks, trees and furniture for Bees Knees and Café 209.
  • Transportation Enhancement Grant application for new streetscape on the James Brown Blvd.
This board rocks!

If ideas wore skirts, Stacie Adkins in Columbia County would be running around buck naked from the waist down. Seems she has started a Farmers market in Columbia County for all those poor folks who can’t drive 15 minutes into downtown on Saturday Morning!

It’s not that competition is a bad thing…it’s the fact that she cannot come up with an original thought or idea in that little head of hers. What’ next? Here is an original new idea Stacie….

Close Fury Ferry’s Road on the first Friday of each month…ask vendors to sell plastic roses…have Ron Cross kick off a karaoke contest…and call it FREAKY FIRST FRIDAY!!!!

Reach the Outsider at augustaoutsider@yahoo.com

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Augusta Artists show in DC

The Mary Pauline Gallery took the work of Brian Rust, Tom Nakashima, Edward Rice and Philip Morsberger to an international art fair in DC. Our Augusta artists received lots of attention from the public attending the fair. Galleries from Belgium, England and Italy were positioned in their exhibition booths all around us. It was very exciting to see that four artists living and working in Augusta can produce artwork that holds up in an international fair.

But, the experience did not go without notice of many things. First no one outside of the US has heard of Georgia, and no one out of the South has ever heard of Augusta. (unless they are serious about golf) This is a blessing and a curse. The international galleries and audience do not care that you are from Augusta, GA, because they think that all of the US is really just a suburb of NY or LA. The NY and LA galleries "think we are all cow tipping sister F*&#%ing rednecks" (that is a quote from the director of a Richmond, VA gallery). But, what is really the most confusing is the people that have heard of Georgia. They see we are from Augusta, and then go on to say how much they love Atlanta. SO they really don't know what or where Augusta is either.

In conclusion we have a vibrant arts community that includes the Morris Museum, Gertrude Herbert Arts Institute, Artist Row, the faculty of Augusta State University. We need more recognition!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Moving Forward

Downtown Augusta Alliance announced formation and charter board of directors in a meeting of downtown stakeholders on Thursday, April 26, 2007. Downtown Augusta Alliance d(a)² voted in the charter Board of Directors for 2007. d(a)² joins together downtown merchants, business and property owners and residents to create a common voice for the progress and promotion of downtown Augusta.

Davenport Bruker (Sanford Bruker & Banks) captured the feeling of those present when he stated: "We sorely need a grass roots organization that is an advocate for downtown; and I believe we have been presented with a great opportunity to help Augusta live up to its potential."

The eleven members of the 2007 Board of Directors are: Chris Allewelt, New Moon Café; Davenport Bruker, Sanford, Bruker & Banks Insurance; Emily Carder, Carder Consulting; Jeremy Carr, The Well; Matt Flynn, Blue Sky / Nacho Mamas / Stillwater; Trey Kennedy, Georgia Bank and Trust; Travis Petrea , Metro A Coffee House; Lara Plocha, Blue Magnolia; Robert Steudle, Elduets Treasures of the World; Kristin Varn, Art on Broad; and Jai West, White Elephant.

A dedicated group of downtown merchants and business owners have worked diligently for months to create the Alliance, involve the downtown district and formalize into a not-for-profit corporation, focusing on the simple mantra "making downtown a wonderful place to live, work and play."

"As someone who works and lives in Downtown Augusta, it's very exciting to see those with a vested interest in the welfare of the area coming together to help shape, develop and promote Downtown," said Emily Carder. Travis Petrea of the Metro Coffee House agreed, "It’s exciting to witness. A progressive thinking group of people is long over due in downtown Augusta." d(a)² is the new voice of the downtown business and residential community, committed to making downtown the heart of the Augusta community.

Furthering the progress and vibrancy of downtown Augusta, the Alliance will build effective partnerships among stakeholders, residents, and current downtown organizations. d(a)² will bring fresh ideas to revitalize the economic vitality of downtown, helping to create a vibrant downtown. d(a)² will work toward cleaning up the downtown area, making it pedestrian friendly, improve signage, rehabilitate deteriorating buildings and make downtown the heart of Augusta. Jeremy Carr, pastor of The Well, explained his desire to be involved in the Alliance: "Far too many times there is a disconnect between the faith community and the downtown scene. The WELL hopes to bridge that gap by being involved with the development of the city's events. Being on the board provides a great context to build relationships with other leaders in the community and work in conjunction with one another for the benefit of downtown."

The mission of d(a)² is to promote the health, vitality and progress of Downtown Augusta by making downtown a wonderful place to live, work and play while creating a vibrant multi-use neighborhood where businesses and the residential community can flourish through cooperative efforts of commercial, professional and residential interests. The boundaries for the d(a)² are downtown Augusta from 5th Street to 15th Street and from the north side of Reynolds Street to the south side of Greene Street.

Want to know how you can be a part of this exciting new organization? Talk to one of the 36 Charter Members or call one of the Charter Board members to find out how you can get involved!