New Performing Arts Venues in Statesboro

We've often heard that everything old is new again. That's certainly true when it comes to a new home for the performing arts. Art enthusiasts in Statesboro are using two downtown landmarks to give artists a new home.

Opened in the 1930's, the old Georgia Theatre is a piece of Statesboro history.

"There were a lot of people who did their courting in this building, did a lot of visiting," Johnny Hathcock of the Friends of the Arts organization told us. "Saturdays, the place to be in Statesboro was the Georgia Theatre."

Closed in the 1980s, the building will soon have new life as part of the community's art center along with the Bank of Statesboro building.

"The auditorium holds only 360,  so it's not big. But it's the perfect size to host school and community performances in music, dance and drama," said Hathcock.

Organizers hope the center will be another anchor of downtown restoration.

"We see this as an adaptive reuse of two of our major buildings downtown," said city manager George Woods. "And of course the use itself is critical to the community, because we don't have any performing theaters."

The old bank will host studios and galleries for painters and sculptors. Volunteers are raising money to match grants and sales tax dollars to do the work. Unveiling tentative drawings of the theatre, the Friends of the Arts Center kicked off its fun drive.

"We'll have campaigns like this each year to raise the money that puts the center over the top," said Hathcock.

He adds the work should be finished next fall, just in time to host the City of Statesboro's Bicentennial play. Members of the arts council and their fundraising volunteers say it will take around $3 million to renovate the building. Both buildings have been vacant for more than 20 years.

Reported by: Dal Cannady