Our Community's Vision is Taking Shape

The Decatur-Athens metro area announces the opening of The Alabama Center for the Arts.
Objectives for this long-term plan include leveraging arts education to:
  1. Train professional artists and art instructors,

  2. Cultivate innovative community assets,

  3. Enhance quality of life for local citizens, and

  4. Support economic development for the region.

The Alabama Center for the Arts is a collaborative effort between the City of Decatur, Morgan County, Calhoun Community College, and Athens State University. It has been heralded as a model for institutional cooperation in the state. The facility will become a venue for college art instruction, community education, cultural events, and will also serve as a catalyst for the region’s creative planning and expression.

The 44,000 sq. ft. facility is located at 133 Second Avenue in downtown Decatur across from the Princess Theater. It represents an investment of more than $8.2 million dollars: $3.2M from each educational institution and $1.6M from Decatur and Morgan County ($800,000 each). College courses taught at the facility will lead to Associate of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees with class offerings that include art appreciation, painting, drawing, computer graphics, sculpture, ceramics, pottery and a teaching major leading to licensure for art instructors.

Non-credit, community education courses will be available to the public. Classes will be programmed to reflect the interests of local citizens. Instructors will include local talent as well as renowned masters.

The Grand Opening and unveiling of this facility is expected to be a week-long celebration. Planning includes free open house events for educators and the public as well as a milestone community fundraiser Gala Celebration. The mission of the Gala is to raise money to fund scholarships to seed the student population with the region's most talented and promising students and to create a permanent endowment to support long-range programming at the Center.

Calhoun Community College, Athens State University, the City of Decatur and Morgan County unite to appeal for your support of this milestone event. Funds raised will be used to create scholarships and to support community programming.

Art is an essential medium for understanding our world and communicating ideas because some truths are best expressed only as stories, songs or images.

Journals are rich with studies reporting the link between the arts and improved student test scores — particularly relating to math and spatial learning. Sophisticated brain imaging is even underway to examine how music, dance, drama, and the visual arts might positively affect cognition and intelligence.

Research, however, reveals that there is an even clearer correlation to be drawn between the power of art instruction and soft-skill development. It is referred to as developing one's "studio habit of mind." Outcomes indicate that art teaches students to engage and persist through to goal by helping them learn from mistakes and to develop personal commitment and follow-through. Thus, art is a powerful vehicle for teaching rising generations how to work attentively for sustained periods of time.

In fact, art instruction is now recognized as a key medium for teaching students how to envision solutions, thinking through what they cannot see — a skill that offers tangible benefits to both workers and employers. Further, teaching in the applied arts has been shown to heighten educational aspirations and intellectual risk-taking as well as enhancing student social competencies and collaborative skills.

Regardless of a student's major, art instruction maintains a vital place in a well-rounded curriculum with outcomes including the ability to use metaphor, an understanding of the role of imagination, the capacity to manage ambiguity, and the value of perspective.

While artistic thinking is good for business and relationships, art is also a powerful path toward meaningful employment. Job opportunities continue to be strong in related fields such as publication design, graphic art, animation, advertising, event planning, tourism, the culinary arts, and writing for publication.

Industries are attracted to communities where there is a ready supply of well-educated creative problem solvers, innovative thinkers, and collaborative workers—making art good for students and creative students good for business.

Cultural Ecosystems Work

  • Cultural assets build citizen interest and generate a sense of place.
  • Revitalization of vacant and under-utilized space increases property values.
  • Art districts and cultural offerings attract pedestrians.
  • Foot traffic and interactivity contribute to social capital.
  • Communal programming drives tourism.
  • Attracting visiting populations increases retail activity.
  • Sales strengthen tax revenues.
  • Progress cultivates additional property investment.
  • Expanding vision attracts creative minds.
  • Pools of critical thinkers contribute to workforce development.
  • Availability of a strong workforce drives economic development.
  • The expansion of commerce gives rise to new job creation.

We can use these resulting achievements to leverage and perpetuate the further improvement of our community's competitive position in the regional marketplace.

Partnerships Build the Foundation from Which to Work

Our mission is to successfully integrate the vision of the community, industry, and education in creating an arts-leveraged economy for the Athens-Decatur metro-area.

Art is a Catalyst for Economic Development

Research demonstrates that art is a powerful catalyst in creating economic vitality. Art communities large and small including Tampa, Seattle, Philadelphia, Raleigh, Savannah, Greenville, Gary, and Oakland have proven that achieving culturally-leveraged community ecosystems benefit quality of life, workforce development, economic growth and revenue generation.

Art Deploys the Multiplier Effect

By creating art districts, street-scapes, entertainment options, cultural amenities, and opportunities for artistic exploration, expression and celebration, we can create a ripple effect that spreads throughout the region adding value to the personal lives of local citizens and increasing the competitiveness of the region.

Help Our Community Build a Creative Economy

As we prepare for the unveiling of the Alabama Center for the Arts, the colleges are looking to community leaders and business and industry to help continue the momentum already established. The grand opening of the Arts Center will include a Gala Celebration Fundraiser designed to raise money to:

  1. Fund scholarships to recruit students

  2. Create named gifts to fund programming

Art Center Fundraising Opportunities:

Heritage Gallery Naming
Includes Endowed Scholarship &
Gala table for 10
Presenting Sponsor
Includes Name on all event materials &
Gala table for 10
Platinum / Gold / Silver Sponsors
Includes Room Naming &
Gala Table for 8
  $75,000 /
$50,000 /

depending upon the room named
Bronze Sponsors
Includes room naming &
Gala table for 4 ($15,000 & $10,000) or
2 ($5,000)
  $15,000 /
$10,000 /

depending upon the room named
Permanently Endowed   $50,000
for full-time award
Named Arts Scholarship
Includes Gala table for 8
for part-time award
Art Sponsors
Table of 8 with one-time named scholarship &
tickets to Scholarship Reception to meet
your awardee
Gala & Reception Tickets
Includes two tickets to the Gala & Reception
(per couple)
Gala Reception-Only Tickets   $75