Skylights, singers and a swarm of students signaled the grand opening of Auburn’s new Gogue Performing Arts Center on last Thursday night. Headlined by pop music group LANY, after a special appearance by indie artist COIN, an estimated 3,000 to 3,500 people filled the venue’s outdoor stage.
In a year expected to be full of performances and events, the $70 million center is a historic one for the University, with the opening offering a glimmer of what's to come.
The double-feature concert event was a long-developed endeavor by the University Program Council to bring students, others in the Auburn community and even outsiders who caught wind of the night’s acts to show the potential of the GPAC.
“We had people travel from all over the states to come,” said Alison Moore, administrator for major entertainment for UPC. “I had a group of girls here that were from Minnesota that drove here, some big LANY fans.”
The event brought forth some new means of planning and organization to the UPC, which has always worked strongly with the University in preparing larger-scale activities throughout its history. The Grand Opening Festival saw it instead partnering with GPAC to bring the bands to the facility, which is more loosely connected to the main campus.
Moore noted that despite this, agents of GPAC cooperated with the council to set the plan in motion around a year ago in anticipation of the center’s unveiling, taking up the task of outreach to groups UPC was interested in hosting.
“Through all of us we worked as a team to get them here," she said. "We started meeting with [GPAC] in the fall but most of our heavy planning has and booking has been over the spring and the summer."
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Beginning the process was no small feat, with the council looking at an extensive number of possible artists for the event before reducing the candidates to its two final choices.
“We start extremely broad. We’ll just sit out and throw out names, and from there maybe narrow it down to a top ten list,” said Caroline Scott, who serves as UPC's vice president of entertainment. “That’s when we’ll contact agents when we get to ten that we think can pack out a venue, that students will be excited for, that can market itself.”
Several beverage stations and a taco truck were scattered about the area to accommodate the thousands of guests in attendance, with the UPC offering catered Chick-fil-A to VIP pass-holders who were also granted stage-side access.
UPC’s next high-profile event is in October and will see comedians Cody Ko and Noelle Miller perform in the Student Center, though Scott hinted at more highlights at GPAC later on. The council intends to feature smaller concerts that would occur more routinely rather than major performances in its developing lineup for forthcoming semesters.
“We’re working with contracting, so stay tuned,” Scott said. “A lot of big things will be going on here. It’ll be a hot spot for years to come for sure.”
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