By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Cooke County —
Creative endeavors among local county residents could get a boost during April following the success of a benefit concert.
Cooke County Arts Council Vice-President Dean Patterson said tickets for “Sweet Sounds” go on sale during the next week with a profit aim of $600 toward a scholarship for a high school senior pursuing further training in music, drama, speech or visual arts.
Students become eligible for the award by writing a one-page essay describing the impact of art on their lives. The 2012 version of the concert brought $500 to the same purpose, Patterson said, and more is always better when it comes to funding this cause.
“They don’t get much recognition,” he said Tuesday. “I think it’s just the way life is. But you still like to give them the recognition, as much recognition as you can.”
The concert is set for Friday, April 5, at First State Bank Center for the Performing Arts. “Sweet Sounds” is a music-themed version of “Artaballoo,” the 2012 fundraiser, and will feature jazz and vocal standards by Gainesville Swing Orchestra and North Central Texas Chorale.
Added to that roster, members of Butterfield Stage Players, Gainesville Area Visual Arts and Gainesville Council of Garden clubs will either perform skits or display examples of locally created art, such as photography, painting or pottery.
“Each organization is putting their own show together,” Patterson said.
A special guest
The vice-president added that Harry James Jr., son of famed 1930s jazz leader Harry James, is tentatively set to visit and speak.
“A lot of people give him credit for discovering Frank Sinatra, since he was the first ‘name’ band to hire Frank Sinatra as a vocalist,” Patterson said about the elder James. “We’re in contact with Harry’s son and our plans are to have him come and emcee. You can’t really get 100 percent-guaranteed participation until closer to the date, but he’s agreed to come and do the show with us.
“Frank Sinatra was his godfather,” he added. “So that will give you an idea of the people he had the opportunity to meet growing up.”
Artists of the past
Patterson, a retired teacher who worked in the Gainesville Independent School District for more than 35 years, cited two accomplished artists who had local origins before striking out into a bigger world.
One is David Hickman, a 1960 Gainesville High School graduate who used his rurally-honed welding skills to become a renowned metal artist. The other is 1984 graduate Dr. Alan Raines, now a Carnegie Hall veteran and director of choral activities at Baylor University whose compositions have been used in University Interscholastic League music contests.
In both cases, they were once teenagers preparing to enter careers in the arts — a realm generally both underfunded and met with less encouragement than other professions.
“He was an outstanding musician: band, chorale, piano, the whole nine yards,” Patterson said about Raines. “He’s known internationally for his skills, but, of course, that doesn’t get publicized the way it should. And I’m sure other schools have students along those same lines.”
“Artaballoo” was sponsored in mid-April of 2012 by First State Bank, whose representative, Lloyd Reiter, admitted during the event that local organizations are becoming more and more capable of helping young creative people find their way.
“I think we do a pretty good job, but you have to keep working at it,” Reiter said in April 2012. “And having the college here certainly helps; it provides the opportunity for students and young people to explore their options.”
The Cooke County Arts Council has existed since 1980, but has thrived mainly through the aid of other sponsors. Member Janet Morris explained that in future years, her council may become more self-sufficient if it can get ahead financially through proceeds from events such as “Artaballoo,” now set to be presented as “Sweet Sounds.”
“This was our first time to try and make some money to fund ourselves,” Morris said in April 2012. “We get some money from the county, but it’s not quite enough to do what we’ve wanted to do.”
Council member Jan Fox also admitted in April 2012 that “Artaballoo,” and the council itself, need to generate more funds in order to offer either higher annual scholarships or more of the same ones.
“We’d like for it to grow stronger and bigger and better, because we need more money,” Fox said. “We’d like to be an arts community. We need to get people involved: anybody who has a love of art for their district or their school or community. And probably the schools would be best, since the younger you get them, the better we can educate them with the arts.”
“Sweet Sounds” tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children. For more information, call (940) 736-1714.