More than a year after its originally scheduled opening celebration, the Coppell Arts Center is ready to party. The new arts center will mark its official opening with “Takeoff: Arts and Music Festival,” a weekend of live performances and festivities, September 9-12.
“It’s important to bring people together to celebrate this big accomplishment that everyone has worked together as a community to make happen,” Alex Hargis, Managing Director of Coppell Arts Center, said. “We’ve never had a chance to come together to break the champagne bottle or cut the ribbon and after being apart during the pandemic, there’s also that emotional connection we’re missing.”
Tony Award-winner Kristin Chenoweth will headline “Take Off” September 11 with a performance of her “For the Girls” concert, a musical revue-style concert celebrating iconic female entertainers. The weekend will also feature a live concert by country singer Coffey Anderson, an opening performance by Matt Castillo and an Art Sip & Stroll through Old Town Coppell. The event concludes with two performances by magician Mike Super, NBC’s America’s Got Talent finalist and Phenomenon winner.
Coppell Arts Center planned to host an opening celebration in May 2020, but as the pandemic forced a series of cancellations and closures six weeks before the event, the staff realized their plans would need to be postponed. “For that first month, it was like going through the grieving process,” Hargis said.
Adding to the disappointment were the numerous construction delays. The pandemic caused supply chain issues for the wood used throughout the interior of the arts center. The AV installation was complicated by project managers getting sick or pulled off the project for another job.
The center built in safety protocols such as upgraded ventilation standards and cleaning protocols because of the pandemic. “It’s part of the business model now,” Hargis said.
Despite the challenges and setbacks, the staff wanted to put the building to work. “We have to be useful to our community,” Hargis said. “But that meant getting back into a building right when the pandemic started. We were back in the office in May.”
The staff held a brainstorming session, creating contingency plans for the short and long term. With the interior of the building incomplete, the center’s exterior space became critical. The center’s parking lot became a drive-in movie theater. “We were the first venue in North Texas to do drive-in movies in May,” Hargis said. “That first iteration of the drive-in movies sold-out almost immediately. The community responded overwhelmingly. They were appreciative to have an outlet.”
When an elementary school was not available for early voting in October, the center opened its doors to the public and transformed itself into a polling place for the historic 2020 general election. It was the first time many people stepped into the new facility. “Again, we were useful,’ Hargis said.
Earlier this year, the center hosted the Dallas Black Dance Theatre as one of its first live performances. It was an emotional milestone. “At the end of that show when the curtain came down, you heard the dancers erupt. They were laughing, they were crying because it was such a moving, special moment,” Hargis said.
As the center planned its inaugural season, Hargis focused on making the center a place for the entire community. “The priorities were creating a blend of offerings that was approachable,” Hargis said. “How do we make this a venue for as many people as possible?”
The season features Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, Schoolhouse Rock Live!, Dinosaur Zoo Live!, A Merry Cirque and a concert by Aditya Prakash. The “Front & Center Series,” a speaker series, will feature journalist Lisa Ling, chef, T.V, personality, and former model Carla Hall, and Soloman Thomas, a Coppell native, NFL football player and founder of a mental health foundation, The Defensive Line.
The center also offers monthly events like Paint & Sip art classes for adults, Kid Art Classes, Make and Take craft events and Grove Grooves, a free monthly outdoor music event. The center is also available for corporate events and weddings.
Hargis hopes Coppell Arts Center will be the place where the people can gather and find something to enjoy as a community. “If it’s for fine art, fantastic. If it’s for corporate meetings, great. If it’s for a wedding, beautiful,” Hargis said. “Whatever it is, if we’re bringing people together and we’re setting that stage for people to share that special moment, we’ve done our job.”
Learn more: https://www.coppellartscenter.org/