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Arts center renovations almost done
The theater at the Performing Arts Center is one site of renovations at the facility. - photo by Danielle Hipps

There will be more for the community than lights, camera and action when the Liberty County School System opens the house in the coming weeks to the Performing Arts Center.

“We’ve actually already had some folks contact us wanting to know when it would be available for use … they’re already lined up …,” Assistant Superintendent Jason Rogers said. “We want to be a service to the community, and having a proper venue to do an art exhibit or a gallery will just be an asset, I think.”

Rogers said he has fielded use requests from performing-arts groups, pageants and community clubs, but that teachers and administrators will have first dibs at use requests within the first two weeks of school.

The property has been closed since May 2011 for almost $1.9 million in renovations, which include updating the 258-seat auditorium, creating an art gallery and converting three former Brewton-Parker College classrooms into a multipurpose room that can be sectioned into three different rooms.

The Liberty County Board of Education purchased the building and about 30 acres in December 2010 for $2,013,341, Rogers said.

Furniture installation and landscaping are all that remain in the work, and Deputy Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Conley said July 11 that the work should be complete within three weeks.

Inside the auditorium, there is fresh paint, new carpet and new acoustic panels lining the walls, but the old chairs remain, Conley said. The tech booth was relocated to be more accessible, and the facility will include a projector with video, DVD and Blu-Ray capabilities.

There also is a new box office and concessions space near the auditorium in former offices.

Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer said she is excited to have a place for larger groups to meet. That was a need identified at March’s countywide planning retreat. In addition to the auditorium, the facility has three smaller meeting rooms and a larger space that can accommodate about 200 people.

Conley said the district likely will use the space for new teacher orientation, something it used to do when the building was a BPC satellite campus.

Many functions held in cafeterias could be moved to the venue, as well as the annual Liberty County Student Media Festival ceremony and pre-planning training sessions for teachers.

Fees will vary according to the requested use, such as whether a group wants access only to the auditorium or to the auditorium and meeting room with kitchen. Rogers anticipates presenting new guidelines to the board during the Aug. 14 meeting.

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