Demolition begins for VSU’s new performing arts center

Today was the first day of demolition of the Old Ashley Cinemas which will soon be VSU's...
Today was the first day of demolition of the Old Ashley Cinemas which will soon be VSU's Performing Arts Center.(Source: WALB)
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 9:28 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2022 at 9:29 AM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Valdosta State University students will be able to take advantage of a new performing arts center thanks to more than $12 million of state funding that Gov. Brian Kemp approved.

On July 24, the final curtain fell at Ashley Cinemas as demolition began to transform it into the new performing arts center. Many Valdosta residents are reminiscing on the old $1 theater.

VSU bought the Ashley cinemas back in 2012. People behind the project said they chose this location to expand to because it’s already in the vicinity of campus.

Today was the first day of demolition of the Old Ashley Cinemas which will soon be VSU's...
Today was the first day of demolition of the Old Ashley Cinemas which will soon be VSU's Performing Arts Center.(Source: WALB)

“This will be one of the front points of someone entering Valdosta,” said Blake Pearce, CEO of VSU Foundation. “And this will be the first part of the Valdosta State campus that they will encounter. So we thought that it would be a really distinctive showpiece and a way to introduce the community to the Valdosta State campus in a real kind of fancy way with the performing arts center.”

If construction goes as planned, they plan to have the new center opened by the 2024-2025 academic school year.

“The VSU theater program will be the primary occupant of the building and we do 6 to 7 productions a year. We also will host our dance students here, so it is an academic facility,” said Pearce. “But the other showpiece is Peach State Summer Theater. So for the entire part of the summer, peach will be featuring usually 3 musical performances.”

This is Blake Pearce, Dean and CEO of the VSU Foundation.
This is Blake Pearce, Dean and CEO of the VSU Foundation.(Source: WALB)

These performances will be ticketed events. Student performances will still be free for students. Everyone else must buy a ticket.

“This could not have been possible without the support of the university system of Georgia, and the state of Georgia, and our regional and local government representation,” said Pearce. “They worked very hard for a number of years to secure the funding for us to start and realize this project.”

People used to perform on screen at the old Ashley Cinemas but now students will perform at the new center in person.

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