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Highly anticipated arts wing opens to great fanfare in south Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE – Delayed for years because of various issues such as a global pandemic resulting in supply chain issues, patience endured by supporters of arts in the Rocket City was rewarded Thursday when the ribbon was cut on the arts wing of the Sandra Moon Community Complex.

Mayor Tommy Battle, Councilwoman Jennie Robinson, Arts Huntsville Executive Director Allison Dillon-Jauken, Parks and Recreation Director James Gossett and Arts Huntsville Board President David Chan were among those gathered to celebrate the opening of the space that is part of the Phase 2 development at the old Grissom High School.

The Lee High School magnet choir performs. (256 Today photo)

Arts Huntsville will manage the facility in partnership with the city.

“Today is monumental, because five local music organizations, for the first time, have a place to call home,” Battle said. “So, congratulations. A place to rehearse without having to beg for space from somebody else as we so often have to do in today’s society. And today, we now have a permanent place to rehearse and to have an office and for our arts group this is huge.

“The wing has 12,500 square feet of space for the arts, and we are delighted to turn the keys over to Arts Huntsville to manage the area and the tenants. And I don’t know if we have real keys or not, but we’ll find some.”

Robinson, a longtime supporter of the art with her late friend and mentor Sandra Moon, was obviously pleased with the project’s completion that she joked “seemingly took forever.” The wing is in the area where the band and other music groups practiced when the campus was Grissom High.

“I had the opportunity to come this weekend and listen to the brass band of Huntsville’s Youth Academy practice here. And as I listened to them, I thought these walls have missed music, and we’re bringing it back today,’’ said Robinson, who represents District 3. “So while this is a ribbon-cutting, I think it’s also a homecoming, and we are here building a home for the arts.”

In addition to rehearsal space, the wing has private offices and shared break, copy and work rooms for the city’s arts organizations that include original tenants Huntsville Community Chorus Association, Huntsville Master Chorale, Huntsville Youth Orchestra, Huntsville Concert Band and the Brass Band of Huntsville.

Dillon-Jauken, who pointed out that a 1996 study that suggested such a facility for Huntsville still sits on her desk, called the day a “game-changer for Huntsville’s arts community.”

“We are going to have arts groups from all corners of this community coming here to rehearse, collaborate, and work together and make beautiful music,” she said.

Parks and Recreation Director James Gossett (256 Today)

The arts wing joins the South Huntsville Public Library, recreation fields, a playground and pickleball courts at the site. More will come as Phases 3 and 4 begin construction.

The vocal ensemble from the Lee High School Creative and Performing Arts magnet program performed following the ribbon cutting.

“This will be a truly unique campus,” Gossett said. “There won’t be anything like it probably anywhere in the state of Alabama. We look around what will be housed here and we’re excited about that. We look forward to it. There’s a lot of challenges. We’re gonna work through those.

“We’re gonna get it done, and I look forward to seeing all you back again as we have another ribbon-cutting and hopefully two in the near future.”

 

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