TIFTON - For the second time in just a few months, Tifton is the subject of an article distributed statewide in "Georgia Living," a regional publication of Southern Living magazine.

This time, local arts activities drew the magazine's attention. (The previous story was about Tifton's reading program and Reading Capital of the World status.) Tifton residents Syd Blackmarr and Wayne Jones were interviewed about Abraham Baldwin College's Arts Connection, described as a "cultural development agency" that makes the arts available to everyone. Dr. Chip Pfister of the Tifton Museum of Arts and Heritage and dance instructor Carolyn Ellis were pictured in illustrations.

The writer, Sara Askew Jones, became intrigued after reading a story about Tifton in Georgia Trend magazine, Blackmarr said.

In recent months, the Arts Connection's Arts and Entertainment Series has hosted the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Blind Boys of Alabama and several other concerts and plays.

The annual Love Affair and Arts in Black festivals, Fiesta del Pueblo, exhibits at the Tifton Museum of Arts and Heritage and events at the Tift Theatre all add to an unusual mixture for a town Tifton's size.

"I can safely say that for the size of our community and for where we are, we have the best scope of things," Blackmarr said. "When you think about everything we have, it's pretty astounding.

"I think the reason is that we all work together and there are all kinds of people working together to do good stuff."

A coalition of partners including the Tifton-Tift County Arts Council, Arts Connection, the Museum of Arts and Heritage, Kids' Advocacy Coalition and the Mandala Institute recently received a $10,000 grant to bring a group of Buddhist monks to Tifton, Arts Council President Jeannie Rigdon said.

The monks, Tibetans now living in Atlanta, will create a mandala (a circular design symbolizing the universe) with sand here and then perform at the Love Affair, Rigdon said. An exhibit of Tibetan photos will be on display at the same time at the museum.

Other upcoming events include an exhibit of NASA artifacts and artwork in July and the Arts Council's Spring Affair March 1. The Love Affair, as always, will be held the first weekend in May.

To contact city editor Florence Rankin, call 382-4321, ext. 209.

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