Q: How does the arts league help foster young talent? Is it important for local children to know we have such a group here?
Lehr: “We work diligently to make the KidsZone at the festival all art and always free. That was Gail Bergeron's passion when we started out. She said it over and over, ‘All art, always free to all children.’ Gail and Trisha Black knew that children would bring their parents into the Art Addicts’ Club, because children aren't afraid to express themselves and they long to create. Then their parents follow the children and remember what it means to become passionate about art. It’s a God-given gift to be creative in some way. We all need to create something and to feel the joy of expressing that part of ourselves. We all need to appreciate the talent of great artists whose work speaks to our very souls. We have been so fortunate to have great people of vision like Lisa Milby who took on the task of developing the early projects for our children's art camps and for Jennifer Rosso of Athens Middle School who has made the KidsZone the most creative place to be in the State of Alabama on that second Saturday in September each year. Her vision has been remarkable. All the members of our board and committees agree about the importance of children growing up in a community that invests in cultural and artistic happenings. If it is a naturally occurring phenomenon, then your community naturally will be more colorful, more musical, more beautiful and steeped in interesting people for future generations to know. People don’t leave interesting hometowns forever. They leave dying hometowns. Art On the Square makes Athens a little more interesting because it gives all the artists a place to express their talent. That’s good for the young people who will someday be the leaders in the community.”