Heather Heath’s brain is always buzzing. That’s because the executive director of the Golden Isles Arts and Humanities is tasked with coming up with engaging and creative programs for the public to partake in all year.
From concerts to kids’ camps to the annual “Christmas Carroll” production, Heath has to juggle new ways of reaching audiences coupled with bringing back the standards everyone loves.
For Heath, the process starts early in the year.
“We are always on the lookout for programs, but planning doesn’t really begin until January/February for the upcoming season,” she said.
“We see what types of shows our audiences really respond to, what may be something that hasn’t been to our area before, performances that may compliment other events that we produce, like the NEA Big Read, and review suggestions from our patrons.”
In fact, GIHA recently released 2020’s Big Read book, “In the Heart of the Sea” by Nathaniel Philbrick. That will take place in February 2020 with special events, book discussions and guest speakers.
Winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction and on the New York Times bestseller list for 40 weeks, this “In the Heart of the Sea,” details the true story of the 19th-century whaleship — the Essex — out of Nantucket. The ship was rammed by one of the largest whales anyone had ever seen, the event inspired Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick.”
While the Big Read and its activities are still quite a few months away, Heath and her staff have linedup plenty of concerts, films and live productions to keep crowds coming back. It’s certainly something that she is excited to share with the community.
“We have a great line-up of live performances this season — there is definitely something for everyone to enjoy from the traditional music and dance from Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble to the nostalgia and influence of Patsy Cline to the holiday classic of ‘A Christmas Carol.’ And there’s much more,” she said.
“What we do, we do for the community — performing arts and great films are for an audience and they are much more enjoyable as a shared experience. So I hope folks will come out and experience great music, theatre, dance and classic films together at the Ritz.”
Here’s a sampling of GIAH upcoming programming that will take arts lovers from summer through the Christmas season:
• Sounds by the Sea will return at 7 p.m. Aug. 31 at Neptune Park, St. Simons Island. The Blues Factor Band will entertain crowds with tunes from the 1960s. Attendees should bring a picnic, chair or blanket. Tickets at the gate cost $10 for adults; $5 for students 6-12; under 6 will be admitted for free.
• Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble will present “Hot Strings and Flying Feet” at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Ritz Theatre, 1530 Newcastle St., Brunswick. They will serve up choreography set to a mix of traditional and original music that explores connections between cultures.
• GIAH’s popular Cinema Gourmet series will return with “Night of the Hunter,” from 1955, at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Ritz. Heath will offer a talk on the film. Food prepared by Indigo Coastal Shanty will also be available. Admission is $18 per person for food and film. Tickets for the film alone are $7 per person. Reservations must be made by Oct. 7.
• The next Cinema Gourmet program will feature 1933’s “Duck Soup,” featuring the three Marx Brothers. It will begin at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Ritz. Indigo Coastal Shanty will provide the plates. Admission is $18 per person for food and film. Tickets for the film only are $7 per person. Reservations are due by Nov. 11.
• Katie Deal will return to the Ritz for her show, “Crazy for Patsy Cline” at 3 p.m. Nov. 17. Deal will share her own story of how the music and style of Patsy Cline has changed her life forever.
• Brunswick’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol” will return to the Ritz Theatre from Dec. 13 to 15 and 20 to 22. Charles Dickens’ classic will be shared as a full stage production, starring local talent, including former mayor Bryan Thompson. For specific show times, visit www.goldenislesarts.org.
• First up for the new year, the Peach State Opera will present “Carmen,” at 3 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Ritz. Georges Bizet’s opera, one of the most popular and frequently performed in the world, is the story of a naïve soldier, Don Jose who is seduced by the fiery gypsy Carmen but loses her to the glamorous toreador, Escamillo. There aren’t many operas that visit the Isles, so it’s a good thing to keep on the radar. For ticket prices, visit www.goldenislesarts.org.