Centre: ‘patrons make it possible’

by Celia Shortt

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JoAnn Ray, center, chairman of the Centre Patrons scholarship committee, congratulates Alison Dees, left, and Tyler Hepner at the June 2013 Brooks Visionary Awards of Distinction luncheon. 


(Editor’s Note: This is the third installment in an occasional series highlighting Coweta School System’s Centre for Performing and Visual Arts and the impact it has had over the last decade.)

In its 10-year history, the Centre for Performing and Visual Arts has provided not only entertainment, but many opportunities for students and community members — very little of which would be possible without the Centre Patrons.

The Centre Patrons is a nonprofit group, organized to support the Centre. Its mission is “to sustain the vision of artistic excellence in our community.”

“I realized that in order for the Centre to be a vital part of the community, we would have to engage it,” said Centre Director Don Nixon.

The director went to four local women for help in raising money to bring in shows and spread the word. The Centre Patrons group was formed in support of this cause.

Nixon said the group came out of a desire to buy a piece of art honoring him for what he was doing in the community. A small group collected money for Nixon’s gift, held a party, and surprised him with it.

“From there, it erupted,” Nixon said of the Patrons. “We had a core group of people to contribute and support the Centre. They now provide the primary funding.”

Jolene Brewbaker has been a Centre Patron since its inception and a board member for the last three years.

“My interest in the arts and finding a way to see a variety of arts is important to me,” she said. “Being a Patron allows me to provide opportunities for my children and others in our community.”

Patron Jo Ann Ray finds says the educational opportunities the Centre provides

for Coweta students is what she holds most near and dear to her heart.

“What Don Nixon brings is extremely rare. He provides students with something affordable and gives them access to something they wouldn’t normally see,” Ray said.

The Coweta County School System invested in the Centre, building a facility on Lower Fayetteville Road in Newnan through education-earmarked Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax money.

Beyond programming at the Centre

, there is a master class organization for students. Coweta students have the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with actors, dancers, artists and other professionals.

“It’s an ongoing extension of the classroom,” said Nixon.

Sue Brown is a retired Coweta music teacher and current Coweta Board of Education member. Prior to her retirement, Brown directed the elementary school choir and the Centre’s opening ceremony.

“The Centre gives children an opportunity to perform on a real stage and know what it is like,” she said.

The Centre also showcases students’ artwork, providing a gallery for display. This fortuity helps and encourages Coweta students.

“We’ve been able to hang up students’ art in a place where the community can see art from all the schools,” Brown said.

Director Nixon credits the “unusual passion between the board and administrators” as to what really sets the Centre apart and propels it forward. The Patrons consistently work to keep ticket prices affordable. In addition, they provide a free concert annually for the community. Scholarship opportunities for Coweta students are available in addition to the master classes, art showcases, and programming.


“We are constantly working to find those connections that will make a difference, and every one has made a difference,” Nixon said.

The Patrons’ next show will be the Doo-Wah Riders on Thursday at 7 p.m.



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