Shelby County Arts Council will open new Old Mill Square Arts Center in August

Shelby County Arts Council will open new Old Mill Square Arts Center in August
A rendering shows the Shelby County Arts Center at Old Mill Square, which is under construction and set for a soft opening in August. (contributed)

Shelby County’s art community is about to be centerstage – and a brand new stage at that – with the opening of the $11 million Shelby County Arts Center at Old Mill Square.

The 30,000-square-foot facility is set to open Aug. 24 with a performance by Three on a String.

Of the 30,000 square feet, 20,000 is devoted to the Shelby County Arts Council (SCAC) to use for performance, visual, music and other arts.

SCAC partnered with the city of Columbiana and Shelby County to make the project happen. Additional support came from the Alabama Power Foundation, Ebsco Industries, the Altec Foundation, the Daniel Foundation of Alabama, the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and others.

Opening night approaches for Shelby County Arts Center from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Among the space’s uses will be:

  • A 200-seat black box theater for music, dance, drama and other performing arts.
  • An outdoor amphitheater and park open to the public all day, every day.
  • A fine art gallery sponsored by Ebsco with exhibits changed out periodically.
  • A metal arts foundry with sculptured art and an artist in residence to create and educate.
  • A pottery and sculpture studio with classes for artists at all levels, along with kilns and a drying room.
  • A visual arts studio for teaching artists to work in a variety of mediums including drawing, painting, printmaking, graphic design and jewelry making.
  • Music studios and practice rooms to teach students to work with piano, guitar and voice, among other instruments.

The remaining 10,000 square feet will be used as a municipal multipurpose venue. It can be used for additional arts and entertainment space or outfitted for 500 seats for any number of uses.

Bruce Andrews, SCAC executive director, said the facility is needed.

The Shelby County Arts Center is under construction in Columbiana. (Michael Tomberlin/Alabama NewsCenter)

“We believe it can be an entertainment destination, an arts and culture destination for central Alabama,” Andrews said. “It makes a statement that the building is all about the arts and the community.”

Jonathan Porter, vice president of Alabama Power’s Birmingham Division, believes Columbiana now has a jewel to boost the arts.

“The new Shelby County Arts Center will be a great addition not only to the Columbiana community, but an even greater tool to promote culture and the arts in this state,” Porter said. “Alabama Power is proud to support this worthwhile project, as Columbiana is an integral part of moving our region forward.”

Andrews said the Shelby County Arts Center is meant to complement and collaborate with other arts venues in the county.

“We want to be synergistic and a sort of symbiotic relationship with other arts organizations,” Andrews said, noting Montevallo and Alabaster have strong art scenes and active organizations.

The corporate community and major foundations stepped up to make the facility go from talk to reality, he said.

Andrews said the Columbiana City Council was bold to believe in the project.

“We’re extremely proud of our collaborators and we want to really thank the city council of Columbiana for really stepping up and being visionary.”

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