Arts Center receives grant to upgrade theater space

State grant to benefit Hattiesburg arts
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 2:46 PM CST
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From City of Hattiesburg Communications Department

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg art scene is about to have a new platform for performances.

A $219,240 grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission Building Fund for the Arts will help the Hattiesburg Community Arts Center transform its Paper Warehouse Theatre into a “black-box theater.”

The City of Hattiesburg will match the grant with more than $100,000 from the city’s one-cent restaurant and hotel/motel tax.

“The magic of theater is the show being revealed to the audience, as intended and directed,” said Emily Gallaspy, director of the Community Arts Center. “With the current buildout of the warehouse, it’s not easy to do that. The audience has to walk directly through the preparation area and the stage equipment/prop area that is often behind the scenes.”

Work is scheduled to begin in the spring or summer of 2023.

The grant will go toward transforming the warehouse, creating a performance space designed for flexibility and creativity in stage configurations and presentations.

“This grant will elevate the space so that we can maximize its potential in offerings for theatrical productions,” Gallaspy said. “It will give our community one more performance space for budding and seasoned performers, and it will also continue to allow us the flexibility to use the space for rehearsals and more.”

The grant will cover reconstruction costs of the 6,000-square-foot space for better flow and organization for audiences, theater participants and show directors.

It will also purchase theater-grade trusses, a lighting system, a sound system fit for theater productions, staging and retractable seating.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant to enhance the Hattiesburg Community Arts Center and to further invest in the North Main Historic Neighborhood and Downtown Hattiesburg,” Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker said. “We appreciate the vision of the Mississippi Legislature in creating the Building Fund for the Arts, and we extend our thanks to our local legislative delegation for supporting the initiative.

“Our community arts center is another great cultural asset in Hattiesburg. We owe a debt of gratitude to the many individuals and organizations who saw the potential of transforming the old Hattiesburg American Building into a thriving space where art is created and enjoyed by so many.”

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