The City Springs Performing Arts Center has penciled in Aug. 4-19 for its grand opening event series, which aims to include two national acts, at least one of them a Grammy Award-winner.
Also in the works for Sandy Springs’ new civic center: a deal to bring in Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performances, and a September debut of outdoor concerts that will include a relocation of the annual Sandy Springs Festival’s musical section.
Those were among the “tease” information offered by PAC General Manager Michael Enoch on March 7 to the Sandy Springs Foundation, a nonprofit raising funds to subsidize arts programs at City Springs and other city facilities. He avoided further details, as the contracts are still in process. But formal announcements are expected in late April, following a launch of a ticketing website, he said.
Officials announced earlier this year that the Atlanta Ballet and Atlanta Opera will perform at City Springs in 2019, and the City Springs Theatre Company, a new musical outfit, will launch its debut season. In the tease, Enoch said the PAC is working on deals with two other major Atlanta arts organizations, one of which is the symphony, as well as a “large film group.”
The August PAC grand opening series is intended to highlight the many performance areas within City Springs, including the main Byers Theatre. Two dates are pegged for major performances: Aug. 10 with a “Grammy Award-winning artist,” and Aug. 18, with a “grand performance” by a “national act.”
In a separate foundation discussion about educational programs, Enoch said the PAC is in talks with a “Grammy-nominated artist, just inducted into the Hall of Fame” about performing and holding a master class, part of which would be filmed. It was unclear whether he meant the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or other institution, and whether he was referring to the same Grammy-winner intended for the Aug. 10 show. City spokesperson Sharon Kraun declined to clarify.
For the performance and master class, no artist names were discussed or even hinted at. However, one artist who appears to fit the description is singer/songwriter Joan Baez, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 and who has been nominated for eight Grammys but never won; she will be between legs of a farewell tour in late August, according to her website. But there is no way to confirm whether she is the artist the PAC has in mind.
Another opening event is a “grand gala” scheduled for Aug. 11, intended as a black-tie fundraiser for the foundation. It will include a program of original performances, and Enoch said the early concept is “vignettes” performed by such organizations as the Atlanta Ballet, the Atlanta Opera and the City Springs Theatre Company.
Emily Hutmacher, the foundation’s recently hired executive director, was joined by several board members in expressing caution about the effort needed to stage such a gala while also carrying out many other fundraising tasks, such as a program marketing seat-namings and named patio bricks. Another point of concern came when foundation board chair Ken Byers and several other members expressed surprise that a major purpose of the group is to raise money to subsidize the main PAC programming, not just issue grants to local arts organizations.
Hutmacher said she will work on “clarifying the message” about the foundation’s purpose and where donors’ money will go. She outlined priorities of getting board members to donate; devising a full budget and donor-targeting plan; and finalizing formal policies needed to actually do the fundraising and grant-making.
The foundation has an opening fundraising target of $7.5 million. So far, it has raised about $800,000, board members said, of which about $650,000 is already earmarked for or spent on the City Springs Theatre Company and a concert grand piano. The foundation currently has about $150,000 available. Request for PAC programming subsidies are expected to be $250,000, and $100,000 for education programming. The foundation also is attempting to build an endowment and must cover operating costs.
In short, the foundation has a lot of fundraising to do relatively quickly. On the most immediate short list, Byers and Hutmacher said, are the 11 of 20 board members who themselves have not yet donated, and the five of six City Council members who haven’t yet, either. Hutmacher said that sort of internal support is crucial to convincing outside donors.
The $229 million City Springs complex — located between Johnson Ferry Road and Mount Vernon Highway at Roswell Road — also includes a new City Hall, a park, retail space and rental housing. It is opening in phases this year, with the housing already open; City Hall expected to be open by May; the park in spring; and the PAC in August and September.
Other events previously announced as coming to City Springs in June are the annual “Food That Rocks” restaurant tasting event and Mayor Rusty Paul’s annual “State of the City” speech.
For more information, see citysprings.com.