Ludacris, Usher, L.A. Reid and more will soon be homeless. The Georgia Music Hall of Fame has been home to thousands of historical, memorable relics in honor of the state’s wide range of musicians, past and present, and their contributions to the world of music. In just the past decade alone, the Hall of Fame has inducted music icons and moguls such as Usher, India.Arie, Keith Sweat, Ludacris, L.A. Reid, Dallas Austin, Jermaine Dupri, Bryan-Michael Cox and the late Shakir Stewart.
Many consider Georgia, particularly Atlanta, a high-profile player in the music and entertainment industries and has developed a reputation of being “home to hip-hop.”
After months of wrangling, the board of directors voted 4-3 on May 24, to turn down an offer to take over the struggling museum by an organization called NewTown Macon and decided to continue with its plans to dismantle it. Previously, the cities of Macon, Dunwoody, Athens and Woodstock made proposals to save the museum, which cost $10 million. All were denied. The state contributed $6.5 million, and the remainder was raised from community contributions.
State House majority caucus secretary-treasurer Allen Peake of Macon released the following statement regarding the unfortunate closing:
“Every effort was made to keep the Music Hall of Fame in Macon, including a final offer to the authority by local community groups to fully fund the operations for the next year. Clearly, the majority of the Authority’s board members felt it was better to shutter the HOF rather than continue the operations of one of Georgia’s hidden gems. A very, very poor decision in my book, and not in the best interest of Georgia’s citizens. It is a sad day in Georgia.”
It also was a sad day for the music industry, in general. Whenever music and the arts suffer, the cultural mosaic of mankind suffers.
The board cited severe financial difficulties as the reason they plan to close the Hall of Fame on June 12. Mike Ford, president of NewTown, said it seemed as if board members already had their minds made up about closing the museum despite last-ditch efforts to save it.
The closing has increased speculation about mismanagement and the decision to locate the museum in Macon in the first place. Visitors and tourists are usually drawn to landmarks that are located in more highly visible cities with greater resources.
Fans can find most of the museum’s holdings at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga., after June 12. –arnell pharr