The Fountain Inn Center for Visual and Performing Arts carries new life within its walls – students in an art class learn the intricacies of pottery or watercolor, a rehearsal prepares the cast for an upcoming production, and young dancers take those first hesitant steps toward the stage.
The center’s list of available activities is growing by leaps and bounds, with its arts academy as the newest entry in the Fountain Inn cultural arts scene.
Fountain Inn’s Economic Development and Civic Center Director Van Broad said after offering summer programs, the academy will continue with classes after school.
“There will be a variety of arts classes like dance, music and pottery,” he said. “We are limited, so we aren’t competing with arts studios or day cares. We want to whet the appetite of young people to learn about the arts and be involved.”
Students have the opportunity to learn a variety of skills, including behind-the-scenes operations such as lights and sound.
“We want to offer a little something for everyone,” Broad said. “We have options to fit every need and every budget.”
FIRE, the Fountain Inn Repertory Experience, offers six productions for the 2011-2012 season, with an expanded run for each show. Productions include "Footloose", "Dear Edwina Junior", "The Odd Couple-Female version", "A Wonderful Life", "Drowsy Chaperone", "School House Rock Live Jr.", and ends the season with "Bye Bye Birdie".
Firefly, the center’s children’s theatre, will also perform.
Broad said the area has embraced theatre at the Civic Center.
“It has been phenomenal,” he said. “We are already beyond the number of subscribers from last year. We’ve gotten incredible feedback. Everyone has been very, very positive. It’s been a very good year.”
Broad credits artistic director Anita Sleeman and music director Gwen Starling for guiding FIRE, along with the support of community partners.
“It takes a huge collaboration of people to put it together,” he said. “We could not do it without the support of the city of Fountain Inn. The exciting thing for FIRE is when we have casting calls we pull people in from across the Upstate. That helped us to expand our reach into the Greenville community.”
Broad said shows draw patrons from the Upstate and as far away as North Carolina.
The pieces have fallen into place to create a hub of activity within the city. Broad said the previous use of the center for office space brought 1,000-1,500 people through the facility in a year.
“Last year, we average 6,000-plus,” he said. “This year, we are on track to have over 10,000 through the facility. We knew the Civic Center could be a potential economic tool for the city. This just enhances the qualities that are already here.”
“While Broad said residents can embrace the arts offerings from all over the Upstate, he is pleased that so much has come to Fountain Inn.
“You can be in a pottery class or see a comedian or musical theatre right here in the Golden Strip,” he said.