POPLARVILLE, MS (WDAM) - An increased focus on the performing arts is happening at one Pine Belt community college.
Pearl River Community College will open its Brownstone Center for the Arts Tuesday after 14 years of planning.
"To actually see it come to fruition," says Center Director Archie Rawls, "it's just exceeded all of our expectations."
The center seats 850 guests, but the capacity is 900 with standing room. Complete with a three-level pit system and a full orchestra shell, the expectations are high for what the state-of-the-art facility will bring to the college and the region.
"We envision things from debates, student performances, all the way to off-Broadway plays," says PRCC President Dr. William Lewis.
The $10.4 million was made possible through a gift from PRCC alumna Ethel Holden Brownstone, as well as a grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission. Rawls says this will make PRCC unique to other community college across the state.
"We feel like it will set us apart," says Rawls. "It's a reflection of our college's overall commitment to quality and excellence in everything that we do."
After spending the last few years performing in the college's cafeteria, Rawls says the students are also ready for to showcase their talents in the new facility. Lewis points out that the center will be a positive addition in many ways.
"It's a very special venue that will be an economic engine for not only this community but for all of south Mississippi," says Lewis.
The Brownstone Center will host its grand opening Tuesday with a performance by the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra.