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Years of planning bear fruit with Johnson Center for the Arts grand opening

Even when Mack Gibson is standing looking up at the Holman and Ethel Johnson Center for the Arts, he still has to pinch himself to believe it’s finally a reality.

“Dreams do come true. I’m looking a one,” said Gibson, chairman of the Troy Pike Cultural Arts Center board of directors.

The Grand Opening of the Holman and Ethel Johnson Center for the Arts will be at 2 p.m. today at 300 East Market Street in downtown Troy. A large crowd is expected to celebrate the beginning of a new era in the arts in Troy and Pike County.

“This is the day that we have been looking forward to for about eight years,” Gibson said. “I just can’t believe that we did it. I keep thinking, ‘Surely, this is not ours.’ It’s just overwhelming.

“All of the dreaming, planning and hard work has come to fruition. The Johnson Center for the Arts is a state-of-the-art facility for our vision for the arts.”

Gibson said he was driving passed the arts center and saw docents leading a group of children inside.

“I just stopped and watched,” he said. “I thought ‘this is working.’ It’s the epitome of what we are about – broadening the minds of people of all ages through the arts.”

The seed for an arts center was planted in 2000 by the Pike County Chamber of Commerce and a group of interested individuals.

“They were determined that the old Troy Post Office building would not be sold off and that it would be preserved for present and future generations,” Gibson said. “Through a sizable donation by the late Claudia Crosby, the building was secured and the decision was made for the building to be used as a center for the arts.”

With the organization of the Troy Pike Cultural Arts Center, the vision of a few became the vision of many.

“The dedication and commitment of the Center’s board of directors, the committee and the many individuals were remarkable,” Gibson said. “The many, many hours they devoted to the project and their ‘stickability’ took us where we wanted to go.

“Mike Panhovst came on board as a consultant and got us on track and took us to another level. And, Richard Metzger, Center director, has been a Godsend. He has dreamed bigger than any of us dared to dream.

“Through the efforts of many people, the dream has come true and it’s much more than I had ever hoped that it would be or could be. I’m sure it is for many others, too.”

The mission of the Troy Pike Cultural Arts Center is to provide cultural enrichment for the lives of all citizens through exposure to the arts.

Gibson said the Johnson Center for the Arts will further the mission of the arts organization and positively impact the Troy and Pike County areas for generations to come.

The Grand Opening will begin at 2 p.m. on the stage outside the Johnson Center for the Arts. The keynote speaker for the event will be Al Head, executive director of the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Other speakers will be Metzger, Gibson, Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., chancellor of Troy University; Dr. Manley Johnson of the Manuel and Mary Johnson Foundation; and Jimmy Lunsford, mayor of Troy.

Entertainment will be presented by the Troy University Jazz Band and Trumpet Ensemble, Shelia Jackson, Lyra Crapps, Scott Sexton, Haley Jackson and the choirs of First Baptist and First United Methodist churches of Troy.