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Atlanta-based public relations agency Cohn & Wolfe is being sued by a former client for nonperformance of duty, according to papers filed in Cobb County Superior Court, Marietta, Ga.

Cohn, a subsidiary of Young & Rubicam, began the slugfest when it filed suit June 24 against the Georgia International Cultural Exchange for $151,346 in unpaid bills relating to promotion of a privately funded art exhibition that GICE mounted. GICE then filed a countersuit claiming that if Cohn had done its job, the group's exhibit would have been a success; instead, it was a financial and attendance disaster.

The history is a little complicated.

Cobb County, a conservative, upscale Atlanta suburb, last year withdrew public funding for the arts in favor of private-sector support.

To underscore their position on the availability of private funding, a group of Cobb County residents, including County Commissioner Gordon Joyner and several leading businessmen, formed not-for-profit GICE to mount "Sacred Art of Russia: Ivan the Terrible to Peter the Great."

But the parties disagree on Cohn's committment to the project.

"We did a hell of a job [promoting the exhibit] and didn't get paid," said Cohn Vice Chairman Jim Overstreet in response to charges in the suit. GICE is "trying to say we didn't perform our duty, but we have reams of clips and did promotions with radio stations within a [short] drive of Atlanta.

"We have a lot of documentation about our success," he said.

GICE refused comment on the suits. Hearings on the suits are not yet scheduled.

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