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A successful season for Statesboro's Averitt Center
Nearly 70,000 attended events in 2013-14
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The Nutcracker is always a crowd favorite every holiday season at the Averitt Center for the Arts. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/file

Football and the arts apparently have a lot in common.

Over the years, many professional players have found the extra training they need not on the football field, but in the ballet studio. Herschel Walker, of the Dallas Cowboys and several other teams, has famously credited his speed and agility to an exercise routine that included ballet classes. Steve McLendon of the Pittsburgh Steelers has said that ballet is "harder than anything else I do."

Dance builds the connection between the brain and the body, which an athlete needs to make those winning plays. Georgia Southern football players may not be at the Averitt Center for the Arts quite yet, but the arts did come to the stadium recently, as the Averitt held its annual meeting at the Gene Bishop Field House at Paulson Stadium.

Like Paulson, the arts center is bursting at the seams with growth. Outgoing President Francys Johnson updated the guests and Averitt Center Board of Directors on the growth of the youth programs, including the addition of a new youth strings program and community chamber orchestra. Members of the Statesboro Youth Chorale previewed a couple of songs at the meeting, just days before they sang at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Johnson reported on renovations happening now, as the center expands youth dance and theater programs to West Main Street and gets ready for a new visual arts center at the East Vine Street location.

This past year, the Averitt sold more than 9,000 tickets to events generating more than $100,000 of its annual revenue from ticket sales alone. And 23 percent of the box office sales were from outside of Bulloch County. Nearly 70,000 people attended events at the Averitt. According to "The Americans for the Arts" economic impact calculator, the Averitt Center had an estimated economic impact of $2.2 million in Statesboro/Bulloch County.

Johnson passed the gavel to incoming President Jenny Foss, who spoke of her excitement about this upcoming year of growth. The board thanked dedicated members Frank D'Arcangelo and Dr. Theresa Beebe Novotny as they rotated off the board and welcomed new members Hayley Greene and Corliss Reese.

The rest of the 2014-15 officers are Daphne Totten as vice president, Erin Dalton as treasurer, Laura Wheaton as secretary, and Johnson as past president. The board also thanked Emily Kochetta as Volunteer of the Year, an important award for a center that relies so much on many dedicated volunteers.

If you haven't taken advantage of all the arts have to offer, now is definitely the time. And perhaps, sometime soon, an Eagle football player or two will enroll in a ballet class, getting that extra edge to take on Sun Belt Conference opponents. For more information or to see the video shown at the annual meeting visit www.averittcenter


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