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Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Albany? Cultural officials mull proposal

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- The heads of two of Albany's cultural institutions are meeting with officials to determine whether it would be feasible to pitch the city as a possible home for the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

With music industry notables such as Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Harry James and now Luke Bryan from the metro Albany area, some believe Southwest Georgia would be a fitting home for the hall.

"There's no question that this area has made a significant contribution to music history," Thronateeska Heritage Museum Executive Director Tommy Gregors said. "What we have to see is if there is support for it and whether it's feasible."

With the state pulling much of its funding, and visitation down due to a sluggish economy, both the Georgia Music and Sports halls are considering a move out of Macon and have put a request for proposals out to find interested cities.

But Gregors, who along with Flint RiverQuarium CEO Scott Loehr went to an informational meeting in Macon last month, said he is acutely aware of the challenges venues like the hall face in simply keeping the doors open.

"These are old numbers, but I think they're still true ... $6 per person in revenues are typically generated by patrons at museums, while costs are usually around $22 per person. The challenge is finding the money to bridge the gap," Gregors said.

The Thronateeska director said that those interested in submitting proposals must do so by Dec. 10. At this point, no proposal has been submitted for Albany.

If officials are hoping to look to either the city or county government for help bridging the gap, they may have a tough sell ahead of them.

"I will say that I don't believe we need another venue in this town that we would have to subsidize," City Manager Alfred Lott said Friday after learning Albany was in consideration.

Athens, according to the Athens-Banner Herald, will bid to house the music hall. The city council for the city of Dunwoody near Atlanta has also voted to bid on the project.

Earlier this month, the city of Macon voted to utilize $500,000 in subsidies to retain both the sports and music halls, and the Bibb County Commission is expected to match that figure.