GECA secures permanent venue for theatrical shows

Published 6:06 am Monday, June 8, 2009

By By MaryClaire Foster
For 10 years the Greater Escambia Council for the Arts has been providing the county with theatrical entertainment, all while doing so without a permanent venue, moving from location to location for performances.
Now though, GECA will and their supporters will be making a home for themselves in the former Bateson’s furniture building.
Johnson said their ability to create a home began with “generous” help from United Bank, allowing them to lease the building for a three-year period with the option to buy at the end of it. Still, Johnson said, it will take more than the building to keep it going.
Johnson said now that they have the building it will take a three step-process to get it where they want it.
To complete the first stage in time for this October’s “Rain Man” performance, work will have to begin this summer.
United Bank President and CEO Bob Jones said the renovation of the building and GECA’s presence there is important to livelihood of the downtown area.
Johnson too mentioned the impact cultural venues like this can have on a town. According to him, when Hyundai was looking to locate outside of Montgomery, one of the first attractions executives were taken to was the Alabama Shakespeare Festival because of the importance of a cultural center in a town.
Jones also spoke of how cultural attractions can impact the bringing in of new business and industry to a community.
Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sheryl Vickery said she too is thrilled at the bringing of more business to the downtown area and the possible positive impact it could have.

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