POWDERSVILLE — At the first start-up meeting for the Powdersville Fine Arts Center, held Sunday at the Powdersville MD360, Terry Manigault and Martha Rupert revealed the location of the center and other recent developments to a group of both artists and potential patrons.
For the beginning of the 2015-2016 seasons, rehearsals and performances will be hosted by Marathon Church on Roe Road in Powdersville, but those backing the Center hope to move into a renovated building on 100 Cooper Lane, a space once occupied by Pathway Church, by Jan. 1, 2016.
While the Center’s opening act, Annie Get Your Gun, celebrates the theatrical, eventually the center will serve as a multi-functional facility for classes and community showings in music, dance, and the visual arts, as well as a dinner theater and history museum.
Martha Rupert, former music teacher for the Anderson One School District, said she is supporting this project, because “I am interested in providing opportunity for locals residents to see and be involved in performances.”
She expressed her disappointment in the paucity of theater workshops and music teachers in the area, particularly in light of Powdersville’s rapid growth and central location to between Greenville and Anderson. “The geographic area we know of as Powdersville is very vague and not well defined,” she said. “It is hard to get the feel of Powdersville as a destination point.”
Terry Manigault, an Upstate music and theater teacher for 20 years, explained that people relocate to Powdersville because of its selection of “good schools, places of worship, and restaurants,” but a burgeoning arts scene could “make this a cultural destination.”
Johnny Harvin said that while he isn’t a participant in the arts himself, he wants his children to reap the benefits of fine arts without having to travel to Greenville or Anderson.
“I don’t want to leave Powdersville until I die and culture is opportunity,” he said.
Because of the Center’s foreseen potential, Manigault has used some of his own savings to kick start the project. However, he hopes that performances, fundraisers, rental studios, donors, and — once the Center is registered as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization — grants will back the tentative $1.5 million needed to build the final structure and utilize the 100 Cooper Lane location in the meantime.
He expects that the theater could also host travelling musicians and actors, with ticket sales from these shows providing another means of financial backing.
Manigault was adamant the center would not be erected with local tax dollars: “If that were so, I would not be standing up here.”
Instead, Manigault hopes that, along with abstract benefits, Powdersville will profit monetarily from the prospect.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people in the arts could make money here?” he asked the crowd, explaining that both teachers and the dinner troupe actors could acquire paid positions at the center.
A visual artist attending the meeting also learned that, in the final location, he might be able to rent space for his studio.
Local caterers will also have a chance to find the limelight, as according to Manigault, the dinner theater will serve high-quality meals dished up by a “very good, clean and reputable company,” most likely in the area.
The final Center, at minimum 7,000 square feet, will house approximately six suites for instrumental, dance, vocal performance, drama and visual art training, as well as a 500 to 800 seat theater, and museum with artifacts from Powdersville’s bygone age.
Manigault also said the theater could be used for the showing of movie classics, such as Casablanca and Gone with the Wind.
Sam Cely, president of Cely Construction Co. and member of the Center’s Steering Committee, has suggested that the Center could find a permanent home on property next to the Powdersville Library. Prospectively, the construction on the final structure will be completed by July 2022.
Even before the Center settles down into its 100 Cooper Location, it will make a name for itself at Marathon with theatrical performances that lean to the comedic side, while also remaining family friendly.
“A good scriptwriter should be able to get his point across without having to use those words,” he said.
The opening musical, Annie Get Your Gun, appears to exemplify these values, if the lighthearted show numbers dispersed throughout Manigault’s speech were any indication. Productions in store for upcoming seasons include Wiz, Shrek, and Seven Brides and Seven Brothers.
Auditions for Annie Get Your Gun will be at the Powdersville MD 360 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 9 and from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 11. Participants will be required to sing at least 30 seconds of a number, preferably not from the musical, while accompanied by a pianist.
Another pilot meeting will be held at the MD360 at 6 p.m. Aug. 13.
“I’m the most excited for the community,” says Veletta Manigault, a former elementary school teacher and actress. “I want this to be something the community buys into, and feels good about.”
Molly Hulsey is a sophomore International Studies and English student at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Ga. She lives in Easley.