Well known for its athletics, Auburn may not strike most as a center for arts, but that could be subject to change. Since the announcement of the new Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center, anticipation has begun to build as Auburn positions itself as a place for fine arts.
The new center that broke ground in August 2017 is expected to bring in numerous performers of different musical and theatrical backgrounds to expand upon Auburn’s art scene.
Executive director Christopher Heacox said construction for the center is nearly half way completed.
“We are closing in on 50 percent completion of the building, which includes all exterior walls, roof, exterior masonry work and roughing in plumbing and electrical,” Heacox said. “We are beginning the transition to installing all windows and the finish work throughout the facility.”
Heacox said the project is on schedule for its anticipated first performance on Aug 22.
The opening for the center will include a four-day festival beginning with the first performance for University students as a part of Welcome Week 2019. The event will take place in the center’s outdoor amphitheater and is free for students.
Heacox said he is working with UPC for the selection of this act, which will be announced in the spring.
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The following days of the festival will include a performance for the community in the amphitheater on Aug. 23 and opening night performance on Aug 24. The final day of the festival will be dedicated to a community day including local and regional performers and tours of the facility.
Weeks after the center’s opening multi-day festival, the inaugural performing arts series will kick off in late September 2019 and run through May 2020.
“There will be 27 acts on the first season spanning diverse performance genres touring Broadway, celebrity concert, dance, family, classical, global and more,” Heacox said.
The center will also be programming performances for school-aged children, allowing local students to come to the Gogue Center to experience world-class performances, he said.
“The Gogue Center’s performing arts series will span a wide array of musical and artistic genres from not only the United States but from around the world,” Heacox said.
As executive director, Heacox and the director of programming and education are responsible for booking the center’s performances.
“One week, you may see a touring Broadway production from New York, the next a jazz ensemble from New Orleans and the next a vocal ensemble from Europe,” Heacox said.
He said ideas for these artists and performances come from everywhere as they draw inspiration from the community, faculty, staff, students and additional experiences they believe will have a positive impact on the campus and community.
“Our mission is to bring the world to our campus and community through the performing arts,” Heacox said.
The announcement of names of the artists and performances will take place on March 6.
Students will receive access to discounted tickets to all of the center’s performances on a first-come, first-serve basis. A program will be in place for patrons to donate their tickets they cannot use to students at no cost.
Members of the community will have the option to choose from multiple subscription packages and discount levels to purchase tickets.
Located on South College Street across from the Jule Collins Museum of Fine Arts, the center and the museum are unified to create the Arts District. Director of Development Leah O’Gwynn anticipates cross programming and events incorporating both visual and performing arts in the future.
“The Gogue Center will be an economic driver and will not only allow artists to come and perform, but to offer education and engagement opportunities in the community,” O’Gwynn said.
She said the community has invested in the creation of the center and its continual support.
“The City of Auburn has been one of the earliest supporters of this project,” O’Gwynn said. “It is important for the Gogue Center to support our community as it has supported us.”
Auburn’s mayor and city manager, along with the president of the Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau, serve on the board for the Gogue Center.
The center is named after Auburn University’s 19th president Jay Gogue and his wife Susie Gogue. Discussions are ongoing about numerous University-based events including ceremonies, graduations, lectures and seminars may occur in the center once it is opened, Heacox said.
“We hope that Auburn will become a destination where people know they can come and see top-tier performances and enjoy the incredible offerings at JCSM,” O’Gwynn said.
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