Valdosta City Council approves sell of Mathis City Auditorium

The Mathis City Auditorium has been the centerpiece of historical events
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 5:56 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - The Mathis City Auditorium has been the centerpiece of historical events like the Nutcracker performance and the Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast and showcase for over 30 years, but that will come to an end in the next few months.

At the Valdosta City Council meeting in August, the council voted to sell the auditorium to South Georgia Medical Center at a negotiated price. The Mathis has been the premier location for several events, performances, and meetings which will affect multiple organizations and businesses.

“Mathis has been a community place. It’s been a place where a lot of people in the community would use it for a lot of functions. The cost has been reasonable. I’m hoping that they can find something comparable to that,” Dr. Samuel Clemons, Sr., with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and Valdosta - Lowndes MLK Committee. said,

Clemons organizations are only a small percentage of those that benefited from the multipurpose facilities at the Mathis. The performing arts community has taken a significant hit with the elimination of a venue with over 1200 seats, and a large stage.

Allison Shenton is the owner of Dance Arts, which hosts recitals each year and its largest production is the Nutcracker in December. In 2022, Dance Arts took its performances to the Valdosta Performing Arts Center which is an entity of Valdosta City Schools.

“The arts community in town would really love for them to build a new facility not only to host us but to bring in larger shows. We feel like it would be great for us as well as good revenue for the city,” Shenton, said.

“Unfortunately everyone has to fight for a spot in just one venue. And there is just not enough weekends in the year to be able to provide for a space for us to bring the community our productions.”

The city council is currently in exploratory discussions about possible public-private partnerships of a civic center, performing arts center or a main stage for the conference center. In this process, there has been a timeline set for future development plans.