Kroc to open with promise of artistic flair

Cindy O'Brien, Ashley Gray and Tanika Mason set a schedule for arts programs at the new Art Factory location on Eve Street.

At the Kroc Center's grand opening Saturday, an evening concert by New Orleans rock band Cowboy Mouth will round out a day packed with athletics demonstrations and cultural performances.


It's a taste of what the new complex promises for the arts in Augusta.

With its 400-seat theater, workshop space, resident artists, and a full menu of classes and performances, the Kroc Center, at 1833 Broad St., is poised to become Augusta's first true community arts center.

Two partnering arts organizations, the Enopion Theater Company and The Art Factory, say the Kroc Center will expand their arts outreach in the community.

Enopion Theater already has rehearsal space on Mike Padgett Highway, but the 12-year-old Augusta-based troupe uses venues all over town for performances. Now Enopian has a permanent stage. Other groups will perform at the Kroc Center, but as the resident theater company, Enopion will set its calendar first.

"I think it's just a great facility," Enopion director Carol Rezzelle said. "The technology is more advanced than anything else here in Augusta -- the lighting and sound boards are totally digital. From a technical point of view, what you can do will be endless."

Enopion produces plays, musicals and children's theater that promote the gospel. In conjunction with the Kroc Center dedication weekend, the group performed The General and his Lady , a musical about Salvation Army founder William Booth.

The Art Factory since 1994 has taught local children dance, music, theater and the visual arts using professional artists as instructors. Without a large complex for teaching its classes, The Art Factory has instead sent instructors to teach in residence at local schools, where shrinking budgets in many cases eliminated art classes years ago. The group had to tie art lessons to academic subjects such as history to comply with state standards.

Now at the Kroc Center, the group can go back to teaching art for art's sake and expand its programs to also include adult classes, Art Factory Director Cindy O Brien said.

"Our main thrust can be just teaching the art form," she said. "How do people know about the history of a culture? We go back and study their artwork, their drawings and writings."

The Art Factory will develop curriculum for all arts education at the Kroc Center. That curriculum will include acting, pottery, photography, painting and drawing, drumming, guitar, piano, chorus, Hip Hop and African, jazz, ballet and modern dance. Classes that sample a variety of art forms will begin in the fall. Full-semester classes are coming in January.

Reach Carole Hawkins at (706) 823-3341, or

Augusta Kroc Center grand opening events

Learn more at or (706) 364-KROC.

10 a.m.: Salvation Army of Augusta Band , Worship and Performing Arts Center

10 A.M. TO 2 P.M.: Augusta GreenJackets play catch with guests, sign autographs, Kroc Center lawn

11 A.M.: Celebrity Dodgeball Tournament led by Austin Rhodes, Helen Blocker-Adams and Augusta Commissioner Matt Aitken, gymnasium; Salvation Army's Captain Todd Mason and others take a fully-clothed Inaugural Ride Down the Aquatics Center Slide .

NOON TO 1 P.M.: Jazz artist Karen Gordon , Kroc Center lawn

NOON: Pickleball Demonstration , gymnasium. Pickleball combines elements of badminton, tennis, table tennis.

1:30 P.M: Choral music ensemble Creative Impressions , Worship and Performing Arts Center

1 P.M.: Motivational speech by Olympic Silver Medal Swimmer Kristina Kowal , Worship and Performing Arts Center; from 2-4 p.m. and 5-6 p.m. signs autographs, Aquatics Center; 4 p.m. teaches water safety lesson and swims in relay race with local swim team participants

2 P.M.: Futsal Demonstration , gymnasium. Futsal is a variation of indoor soccer.

2:30 P.M.: Eryn Eubanks and the Family Fold perform bluegrass, gospel, country, and other music, Worship and Performing Arts Center

2:30 TO 4:30 P.M.: Miss South Carolina USA 2011 Courtney Turner signs autographs, party rooms

4:30 P.M.: Master Illusionist Harris III , Worship and Performing Arts Center

5 P.M.: Wheelchair Basketball Game played by Champions Made from Adversity, gymnasium

6 P.M.: Children's musician Tara Scheyer and the Mud Puppy Band , Kroc Center Park

7:30 P.M.: New Orleans rock 'n' roll band Cowboy Mouth , Kroc Center Park

9 P.M.: Fireworks display, Kroc Center Park.