College choir gives credence to cultural arts center

Published 10:30 pm Wednesday, March 28, 2018

When the Johnson Center for the Arts opened its doors 10 years ago, dreams came true.

Patrons of the arts had been hoping and planning and, perhaps, sending up a prayer or two, for a cultural arts center in Troy and Pike County.

Today, the JCA is even more than most of those who sat on the board of the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Foundation dared to imagine.

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In the formative years, the focus of the JCA was on the visual arts. And, very quickly, the arts center on East Walnut Street in downtown Troy became widely known for the quality of exhibitions it offered year round. Not only did the JCA feature noted state and local artists, it also featured nationally and intentionally acclaimed artists.

Today, the Johnson Center for the Arts has the reputation of a highly regarded visual arts center. But the board’s desire was for the arts center to be a venue for all the arts – music, theater and dance as well as the visual arts.

“The Johnson Center is a wonderful space for exhibiting artwork and it is just as wonderful for the performing arts,” said Wiley White, JCA exhibition coordinator. “For almost as long as we have been hanging artwork, we have invited the artists to participate in ArtTalks, which have been popular with our docents and patrons of the arts.

“The Gibson Family upper gallery is ideal for small performing arts events and we are beginning to have more of those events. We are truly becoming a cultural arts center.”

Mack Gibson, board member and past board chair, agreed. He was in attendance Saturday when the Birmingham-Southern College Concert Choir took the stage at the Johnson Center.

“The choir sang a cappella and, when they started to sing, their voices went up to the ceiling and came back down and enveloped the audience,” Gibson said. “It thrilled my heart. I sat there thinking, ‘I’m so glad I’m here. I’m so glad that I have given my energy to this.’”

Gibson said hearing the beautiful voices of those young people thrilled his heart.

“The concert by the Birmingham-Southern choir is a realization of the board’s mission and the mission of the Johnson Center for the Arts to expose young people to the arts and to provide opportunities for them to participate in the arts. We are doing that. The center is a venue for all the arts and that is so exciting.”

Gibson expressed appreciation to Dr. Jeff Kensmore and his choir for making the JCA a stop on their 2018 Concert Choir Tour.

Gibson said the support of the community has been a catalyst in expanding the JCA’s mission to include music, drama and dance.

“The community shares the success of the Johnson Center,” he said. “Just look at what the Troy Music Study Club did for the center with the donation of the Mason Hamlin grand piano. It opened doors to many musical opportunities. And, our doors are always open and there is no admission charge. We want people to come and be exposed to the arts and come back again and again.”

Hours for the Johnson Center for the Arts are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and until 3 p.m. on Saturday.