By Ashley Crain
Developing and maintaining a long-lasting legacy is no easy feat. It takes years of careful planning, a dedicated team and the support of an entire community to keep a legacy alive and thriving. The legacy of The Classic Center Cultural Foundation is no different.
Originating in 2001, The Classic Center Arts Foundation, as it was originally named, was not only a new and exciting approach to keeping The Classic Center in a state-of-the-art condition, but also a way to provide classic art and entertainment — specifically, Broadway entertainment — to those who believed in the foundation’s mission to entertain and educate the community through diverse performing, visual and culinary arts programs.
Thanks to the continual generosity and support of the foundation’s original board members and contributors, the name was officially changed to The Classic Center Cultural Foundation in 2003, resulting in a growing foundation membership base and the creation of a legacy in Athens.
Today, The Classic Center Cultural Foundation’s legacy has reached far beyond the original vision of its creators. The Foundation currently awards over $25,000 in annual performing arts and culinary scholarships to students in Athens-Clarke County and throughout Northeast Georgia. The 400 foundation members allow The Classic Center to support visual art in Athens by hosting two Classic Galleries, which rotate 35 pieces of art twice a year. The Classic Center is also a permanent home to 50 locally-purchased art pieces. And since its inception in 2001, The Classic Center Cultural Foundation has overseen 6 capital campaigns to support $46 million in annual economic impact driven by The Classic Center.
The foundation would not be where it is today without the backing of community members who believe in its legacy. Foundation members are, in turn, gifted with several benefits as a thank you for their continued support. Membership benefits include access to ticket presales, priority seating at shows, Broadway receptions before each show, VIP artist meet and greets, Classic Conversations before Broadway shows, annual trips to places such as New York City, Alaska and abroad, group dinners and outings and more.
In 2014 a new membership track was created in an effort to attract the next generation of arts supporters in and around Athens. The 501 Club provides benefits to foundation members outside of the Broadway Entertainment Series and instead focuses on the concerts and comedians that grace the stages of The Classic Center. Membership benefits include access to presales and a private lounge and bar at shows, invitations and complimentary drink tickets to 501 Happy Hours, 501 Club excursions, artist meet and greets and more.
Even though it has been nearly 20 years since it originated, the legacy of The Classic Center Cultural Foundation is still in its infancy. Efforts to maintain its mission to keep the arts alive and thriving in the Athens community are an ongoing endeavor and it would cease to exist without the continued support of its 400 members.
The community is invited to learn more about The Classic Center Cultural Foundation at ClassicCenter.com/Foundation. If you love the arts and want to see them thrive for generations to come, we encourage you to become a foundation member and be a part of the legacy.