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A Milestone - Averitt Center turns 5
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Anniversary Week Events

    In the first event, the  “Legend in the Arts” induction ceremony Thursday, Sept. 10, a local artist will be honored, he said. The artist, nominated by citizens,  will be one who has notably influenced the art world in his or her field. The ceremony, open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in the Center's Emma Kelley Theater.
    The following evening, Friday, Sept. 11, local architect and artist Edwin Akins will be honored, with several of his works highlighted in an exhibit in the Arts Center's Main Gallery. Akins, who was nationally known for his work as an architect, designed many area homes. An anniversary reception at 7 p.m will accompany the unveiling of Akins' work, with drinks and hors d'oeuvres.
    A handful of homes designed by Akins will be featured during a Tour of Homes, on Saturday, Sept. 13. A map showing the homes' locations will be included with ticket purchase, and visits can be made to the homes between 12 noon and 4 p.m.
    Tickets can be purchased for $18 at the Arts Center box office, Yard and Haus, H.W. Smith Jewelers, and either L.A. Waters location. Proceeds benefit the Averitt Center’s visual arts programs.
    Saturday evening, the series of events will culminate with a night on the town with Jeremy Davis and the Fabulous Equinox Jazz Orchestra. The 17-piece jazz ensemble will feature American classics.
       Tickets are available at the box office from 1 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and can be ordered by phone  (212-2787) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.    

       On September 9, 2004, the Averitt Center for the Arts opened to the public. In a letter to the public that appeared in the Statesboro Herald, the center’s executive director Tim Chapman wrote: “My hope is that you will make the Averitt Center for the Arts a part of your life ... The center is coming to improve your quality of life. That is our goal.” After five years of hundreds of plays, musicals, dramas, concerts, art exhibits, dance recitals, movies, camps, classes, beauty shows, weddings and even a film festival, it’s easy to say the Averitt Center has not only met all expectations, but it has far exceeded them.

     Five years ago, Statesboro realized a dream; the David H. Averitt Center for the Arts opened, offering citizens a place where the arts could be appreciated and a valuable attraction that draws visitors to the city.
    From delightful exhibits in the art gallery, musical performances and plays, the arts center brought culture to the area in a central location where the arts could be appreciated and enjoyed.
    The Arts Center has proven to be a feather in Statesboro's cap, said Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce President Peggy Chapman.
    "It has provided an anchor for downtown Statesboro," she said. "It provides cultural events that draw people into the downtown area."
    The Averitt Center, named for former Statesboro mayor David " Hal" Averitt, a strong supporter of the project in its formative stages and afterward, has " opened doors for other businesses" downtown, since more people are drawn to the area at night to attend performances or exhibits, she said. "It's nice to see people downtown on weekend, and at night."
    The center, housed in the historic Bank of Statesboro building, with its Emma Kelly Theater where the old Georgia Theater once stood, is also a lure for people looking to relocate - older retired couples or younger couples with children, she said. The venue for arts is an attractive plus that " sets us apart from other communities."
    For the past five years, the Averitt Center for the Arts has brought numerous exhibits and performances to the area.
    Executive director Tim Chapman said the most successful musical performances include Broadway singer Christine Andreas; pianist CristoFouri; The Statesboro Blues Band (directed by Ross Kelly) and Elvis impersonator Travis LeDoyt.
    Popular performances included Shay Morgan's “The Nutcracker Ballet”; Averitt STARS'  “Hello Dolly,”  “Driving Miss Daisy” and “A Life Done Right: The Living Legacy of Erk Russell,” as well as Broadway musical "Little Women” and "A Tribute to Lewis Grizzard,” he said.
    Six of those top shows were produced in Statesboro, he said. "... I cannot pick a favorite. I love everything we do at the Emma Kelly Theater."
    But the exhibits are just as delightful, he said.
    "Since we are a multidisciplinary art center, which is unique for the state of Georgia, I get just as much satisfaction from our Gallery exhibits as I do from our performing arts. When a new exhibit goes up, it is like Christmas morning for me."

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