By Deborah Wheeler Members of the Three Arts Alliance at the annual dinner held May 21 were informed that due to declining membership, volunteers and revenue, the organization would be looking to merge with the Cultural Arts Association. Carolina Cox, CAA?s executive director, announced last week that the merger has taken place. TAA President Christine Burroughs approached Cox in April about the merger, said Cox, but the proposal had to be reviewed by CAA?s board and advisors. TAA was formed in 1996 by 100 disgruntled members of the CAA. ?CAA only had interest in visual arts,? said TAA founding member Johnnie Riley-White. ?We had an interest in performing and visual arts also. We decided we needed a different art group that had more to offer.? TAA offered opportunities through workshops, seminars and training for those affi liated with the literary, performing and visual arts in Walton County, while CAA concentrated on visual arts. TAA published four books during its 10 years and the organization derived much of its revenue from the sale of those books, which financed scholarships and grants for deserving artists. The organization also sponsored an annual Student Writers Contest, the Alliance Players drama group and the Reader?s Theater. Membership of TAA grew to 200. However, sale of its books fell off due to market saturation. ?Over the past two years, our current board has budgeted frugally and are now in the black,? said Burroughs. ?But fi nding new members and volunteers has become difficult. Board members have continued to serve long after their terms expired.? Burroughs has served as president of TAA since December 2004. Burroughs said that over the past five years TAA?s chorus, theater company and visual arts groups have suspended activity, leaving only two active branches: Paradise Writers Society and Coastal Heritage, which performs local history monologues and works on the Coastal Branch Library collection. After unsuccessfully appealing to the TAA membership for many months for new board members, Burroughs said the TAA board members decided to look into moving under the umbrella of the CAA. She said there was some initial grumbling about the move, but when the vote was taken, it was unanimous. Burroughs said many of the TAA members are also CAA members, including Cox. Burroughs said it certainly wasn?t her intent to dissolve TAA during her tenure as president, but she didn?t see any other alternative. ?I didn?t want this to happen ... We used to give out scholarships but we had to stop,? she said. Riley-White was president of TAA for four years. She said she is not presently a member of CAA. ?It?s (ArtsQuest) now a Sandestin event and no longer local. It?s too big. I don?t see myself rejoining. But I?ve cut back on a lot of things,? said Riley-White. ?TAA was a grand organization that met the needs of the community that had an interest in all disciplines of the arts. It was very, very local. All of our art shows were local, where CAA?s are not. TAA was the impetus for Grit & Grace. One sad thing about it folding is that it becomes different.? Burroughs agreed that some artists had felt left behind in CAA?s ArtsQuest art show. ?Some of our local artists couldn?t qualify for ArtsQuest. At TAA?s member art show, we supplied food and didn?t charge a fee. ArtsQuest is expensive and it?s juried,? said Burroughs. However, she said the TAA membership would be better served under CAA. ?CAA is going to allow us to continue our branches and accommodate the local artists by providing space at its annual Flutterby festival for local artists to show their work. It will be free,? Burroughs said. Cox said that Flutterby would become a local art show with a members? art tent. ?We?re real excited about it,? she said. In a press release issued since the merger, Cox said, ?We welcome the South Walton Three Arts Alliance to our organization; the two organizations will now blend their commitments to the visual, performing and literary arts. ?The Flutterby Festival, which will be held Oct. 14 - 15, will continue to celebrate the return of the monarch butterflies and will welcome local artists by providing a venue for them to display and sell their work. There will be special emphasis on family activities and educational and recreational activities for all ages will be provided. ?CAA?s board has arranged for current members of TAA to automatically become members of CAA for one year. ?Several TAA activities, such as Poetry, Prose and Potluck ? an event sponsored by members of the Paradise Writers Society branch will continue under the umbrella of CAA membership. The Coastal Heritage branch will still contribute to the local history work at Coastal Branch Library and will still perform local history monologues.? Burroughs and two other TAA members have also been asked to serve on the CAA board.