How Would Dalton State Use a Performing Arts Center?
Over the past few weeks, I have been asked many times how Dalton State would utilize a Performing Arts Center if one were constructed here. There is quite a bit of interest in this topic with the upcoming Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax vote which includes the construction of a community Performing Arts Center as a major project.
Because the College is an entity of state government, we cannot take a position on a political issue and thus can neither support nor oppose the upcoming SPLOST, but I can tell you how the College could make use of a Performing Arts Center if our community had such a venue.
For several years, it has been our aspirational goal to create a vibrant fine arts program on campus. In addition to bringing fullness and balance to our academic programming, the arts also offer us an ideal way to reach across the interstate and connect more directly with our community. Concerts, recitals, theatrical performances, and gallery exhibits provide us an outstanding opportunity to engage and enrich the cultural life of Greater Dalton.
Since January of this year, the College has hosted 41 concerts, lectures, and shows on campus, all offered free and open to the public. These were stimulating programs that expand the brain, enlighten the mind, enrich the soul, and elevate the spirit. Many of them were arranged through our growing fine arts program which has added so much in the short time we’ve had it.
Almost all these programs were presented in Goodroe Auditorium of Gignilliat Memorial Hall. As a result, all of these programs were small in scale – only a few musicians at a time, for instance. Goodroe is a very valuable venue for us, but it was constructed really as a 300-seat lecture hall; it has a very small stage that lacks the amenities a true performance hall would have.
We are pleased and proud to provide the programs we have and continue to provide in Goodroe, but our opportunities are limited – very limited. We have believed for quite a while that a community performance venue, funded through a private-public partnership, would be an invaluable resource to the College and the community.
What features would such a facility include? Ideally, a performance venue would include a full-size stage and orchestra pit, rehearsal space and music rooms, a scene shop for the construction and storage of scenery and costumes, dressing rooms and a greenroom. The addition of a black box theatre would allow smaller productions to be staged.
Who would use such a facility? Local theatre groups and dance companies, visual arts groups, the school systems, and community groups in addition to the College should all have access to such a performance hall.
What kind of events could Dalton State host in such a space? We could stage theatrical performances by our students and present student musical ensembles such as choir, jazz band, concert band. The College could collaborate with community theatre and dance companies to stage musical productions. We could expand our Fine Arts and Lecture Series to include larger scale productions such as orchestras, ballets, opera, and national touring companies.
With such a venue, we could host region literary one-act competitions and sponsor Governor’s Honors juried auditions in theatre, dance, and music. We could accommodate regional and national workshops, such as the Southeast Horn Workshop, Bass Coalition Workshop, College Music Society, International Brass Symphony, and others.
It’s fun to imagine, but many questions still remain, such as how such a center would be operated. The construction cost of $12 million is given in the SPLOST proposal, but we all know that the real costs come after a building is open and operational. These must be fully considered.
There are many examples of wonderful performance venues that serve both their local colleges and their communities; I can refer you to the Bailey Center at Kennesaw State, the Townsend Center at the University of West Georgia, Columbus’s fabulous RiverCenter and the Weidner Center of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.For now, we are growing our fine arts program within the limited facilities on the Dalton State campus. But if and when Greater Dalton constructs a Performing Arts Center, we look forward to being an active and engaged partner.