CEPAC to celebrate 2 years
by Talia Mollett
tmollett@mdjonline.com
September 09, 2009 01:00 AM | 2041 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
COBB GALLERIA - Attendees will groove to disco tunes Saturday night when the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre celebrates its second anniversary with the Overture Gala, which will feature cover band "ABBA The Music."

On Sunday, CEPAC will host the second part of the weekend celebration with the "Overture to the Arts" festival from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. "Overture to the Arts" will feature performances by regional arts groups and serves as a preview for the upcoming arts season.

This weekend's anniversary will spotlight CEPAC's impact on Cobb and the region. The performing arts center opened in September 2007 and has since hosted more than 371,000 guests and featured 240 performances, said Michael Taormina, CEPAC's managing director.

"We've continued to grow in our stature and the quality of what we're able to present. The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre has wide-reaching effects," he said.

Asked to list his proudest accomplishments in the last year, Taormina said he is pleased with the continued growth of the Artsbridge education program and the establishment of the Shuler Hensley Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater.

Since its inception, the Artsbridge education program has served 88,000 students from 21 school districts in the state, as well as private and home-schooled students, Taormina said. The program is a collaboration between the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, The Atlanta Opera, Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, The Georgia Ballet, Young Audiences-Woodruff Arts Centre, Kennedy Center Theatre For Young Audiences and Theatreworks USA to bring area students the best quality in educational programming, according to CEPAC's Web site.

The inaugural ceremony for the Shuler Hensley Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater was conducted April 14. The awards are similar to the professional Tony awards and honor high school musical productions from schools in the metro-Atlanta region in 15 different categories.

Looking ahead, Taormina said he hopes to bring more celebrity chefs to CEPAC.

"We had two sell out crowds from the Alton Brown show we just did, which will air October 10 on the Food Network. That was very successful for us," he said.

Dennis Hanthorn, Zurich general director at the Atlanta Opera, said he believes CEPAC will continue to draw patrons and top talent to the community. The Atlanta Opera is one of three resident companies at the performing arts center.

"I love the facility and our patrons love the facility. The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre is well-suited for presenting opera and has provided us the ideal venue to produce the finest opera in Atlanta," he said.

Hanthorn said he wouldn't change much about CEPAC, except for maybe having some additional stage space.

"As with every theater, choices are made during the construction period. The leaders made the best decision they could during the construction phase," he said. "It's always nice to have more space. More is always nice, but we have a great facility for the price that was spent."

The $145 million performing arts center was paid for in part through a county bond package ($57 million); the exhibit hall authority ($11 million); a gift from John Williams ($10 million); a gift of the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation ($3 million); and other fundraising ($27 million).

"It's one of the finest facilities in the southeastern part of the United States. You would have to travel to Miami, Dallas or Washington, D.C. to get similar quality," Hanthorn said.

Tickets for Saturday night's full gala evening are $400. The evening will include a cocktail reception, dinner, concert performance and disco dancing. The gala is black tie optional. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre Foundation initiatives.

For more information, including a list of performers for "Overture to the Arts," go to www.cobbenergycentre.com.
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