ELLIJAY, GA – Celebrating over two years of work, Gilmer ARTS held a ribbon cutting on Thursday, August 10, to officially open the doors of the George Link, Jr. Playhouse.
Congressman Doug Collins, right, speaks with a local citizen soon after cutting the ribbon on the George Link, Jr. Playhouse.
Hosting local community members at the Gilmer Chamber Luncheon, the playhouse also saw Congressman Doug Collins and Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston speak before the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.
The project of building the playhouse began under then-President of Gilmer ARTS John Rathbone who has followed the project through under new President Sharon Watkins. Rathbone says Watkins has done a wonderful job continuing the dream of the playhouse saying, “There isn’t really anyone who could have succeeded me in that position that I would have felt better about.”
Now the Executive Director of the Project, Rathbone has listed several issues the playhouse still faces such as sponsors and funding, but he feels the greater accomplishment for Gilmer ARTS is the support for the playhouse finding volunteers for positions like Artistic Director, Facility Manager, Production Manager, and Marketing Manager among others.
Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, David Ralston
Community Support was echoed by Speaker Ralston when FYN caught up with him after the ceremony. Ralston told FYN, “I think it says a lot about the community, it says they are looking forward, not back. This is the result of community interest, so I think this community can take a lot of pride in what they’ve done.”
Rathbone and Watkins both mentioned the new opportunities the facility will open for both events downtown and access to community. A wide variety of events have already been booked for the venue including musical theater, comedy, magic mind reading, and country music to name a few for the fall alone. More than that the community itself can contact Gilmer ARTS to discuss renting the facility for their own needs. The opportunities also spill over into the Gilmer ARTS original building as renovations will begin on that to increase space for classes, art gallery, and exhibitions. The new renovations are set to begin Monday morning, August 13, according to Watkins.
Prior to renovations, a lot of preparation was needed to make the George Link, Jr. Playhouse ready for its transformation.
Congressman Collins commented on the restoration process saying, “Just think about the character of old places that become new again. Think about the regeneration of communities and people, I think what it does to me is it makes everyone from our young and old know that there is hope and change and usefulness. We are a society that is, many times, too concerned with the now. We forget that where we are standing right now is a result of people who dreamed and hoped and payed the price years ago. We are standing on their shoulders. I think buildings like this that are re-purposed for this tells us that their is a new adventurous spirit. It’s a reminder of the old that gets us to the new.”