The opening of the luxurious Garland Center for the Performing Arts in June 1982 marked the flourishing of the Arts in Garland. Community use surpassed all expectations, and today the Arts Center has become a prototype across the Southwest for communities who are planning to build cultural facilities.
The original 27,000 square foot facility included: two theatres, meeting rooms, two dressing rooms, and a rehearsal hall. The Granville Arts Center provides two elegant proscenium theatres with seating for 720 and 200, and a spacious lobby area. The Brownlee Auditorium features a 55-foot fly loft with a counterweight system and a hydraulic elevator orchestra pit. All theatres have computerized lighting systems and state of the art technology.
In the first year of operation, the Garland Center for the Performing Arts won two state awards: The Texas Arts Alliance Award for Excellence in Building and Management of the Center; and the Texas Municipal League's Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts. Within the first year the Garland Arts Center attracted more than 100,000 in attendance for plays, concerts, meetings and receptions.
The Pace House
In 1985, the City of Garland and the Performing Arts Center were actively involved in the actual relocation and restoration of an old Texas Victorian farmhouse called the Pace House, which was built in 1895. The home was moved to Heritage Park adjacent to the Performing Arts Center. The Pace House has provided the perfect setting for hundreds of weddings, receptions, reunions and meetings since it opened in 1986.
The Garland Cultural Arts Commission
In February 1986, the Garland City Council created the nine member Garland Cultural Arts Commission to serve as a liaison between the City and all community-based arts and historic organizations. The Commission's primary goal is to increase the visibility of the Arts in Garland. The GCAC also negotiates agreements for management of the Landmark Museum, Train Car, and Lyles House located in Heritage Park, adjacent to the Arts Center. The Commission studies and revises the policies and procedures of the Granville Arts Center Theatres, The Atrium, Plaza Theatre and Pace House. In 1987, the Commission created the private, non-profit organization known as the GCAC, Inc. to pursue various sources of revenue in order to fund meritorious arts and historic groups through a sub-grant program. This was an outstanding accomplishment since these funds have helped Garland Arts organizations survive recent years of economic downturn. In recognition of this excellent program, the GCAC, Inc. won the State TRAPS Award for Arts and Humanities in 1989.
The GCAC, Inc. administers the sub-grant program through 15% of the hotel/motel tax funds along with additional corporate and private donations. Approximately $1,000,000 has been placed into local arts organizations since the inception of the program in 1987. This means, by state formulas on dollars spent on the arts, that a minimum of $4,000,000 has been put back into the community from that contribution alone.
The GCAC, Inc. has supported local arts groups through advertising and promotional campaigns. The bi-monthly newsletter, Arts In Action, which was originally created in 1982 by the PAC Guild, was published by the GCAC, Inc. from 1989 until 2008. Arts in Action is currently published by the City of Garland and is mailed to more than 8,000 ticket buyers. The GCAC, Inc. places ads promoting Garland arts events in numerous Metroplex newspapers. All projects of the GCAC promote events produced year round by the affiliate arts organizations. Through these major programs, the GCAC, Inc. continues to fulfill their goal of "increasing the visibility of the Arts in Garland."
The GCAC also sponsors a visual arts juried competition with GISD Seniors each year. Cash prizes are presented by Commissioners during the May Awards Days at a special reception at the Arts Center.
The GCAC has presented an annual Business For The Arts Award at the Chamber Banquet each year since 1990. Numerous Garland Businesses have been recognized for their outstanding support of the Arts in Garland.
Expansion of the Garland Arts Facilities
In 1997 the voters of Garland approved a bond program that provided for expansion of the Garland Performing Arts Center and renovation of the historic Plaza Theatre on the Square in Downtown Garland.
Restoration of the Plaza Theatre began in August 2000 and was opened to the public in August 2001. The building itself dates back to 1918. The first movie theatre was opened in the facility in 1941 and then updated to the art deco façade in 1950. The structure was donated to the City of Garland in 1991 by John Skelton, who dedicated it in the name of his aunt, Jennie Bisby. The newly-renovated Plaza Theatre features a spacious lobby and elegant auditorium with proscenium stage and luxurious seating for 350 people. The Garland Cultural Arts Commission, Inc. assisted the City of Garland in completing the renovation of the Plaza Theatre with a fundraising campaign. Commemorative star-studded seats and lobby stars engraved with each donor’s name were sold and this campaign raised more than $82,000 which included matching funds from the Meadows Foundation.
In 2001, the City of Garland began the expansion of the Performing Arts Center and the construction of the new Arts Center Atrium banquet hall. The renovated Arts Center features an extensive lobby area, additional women’s restrooms, a new concession area, new box office, additional dressing rooms and scene shop. The new facilities opened in the spring of 2003.
The Atrium at the Arts Center is a 6,300 square foot ballroom that will accommodate up to 450 people seated at tables with a full service catering kitchen. The ballroom is encased in glass on two sides and opens onto a beautiful outdoor courtyard. The luxurious glass-lined lobby covers over 3,100 square feet. The Atrium provides an elegant setting for banquets, receptions, weddings, trade shows, exhibits and conventions.
Renaming of the Garland Performing Arts Center
On Tuesday, February 4, 2003, the Garland City Council unanimously voted to rename the Garland Performing Arts Center the Granville Arts Center in honor of Patty Granville, Director of the Performing Arts Center since its opening in 1982. “Patty has been the guiding force in the growth and expansion of the Arts Center,” said Jackie Feagin, the council member who proposed the resolution. “Cities have consulted with her. She is a teacher and a performer.” Patty was one of the founders of the Garland Summer Musicals and has served as Producer of the GSM since its inception in 1983. Patty has an extensive background in theatre and television, founded upon a degree in theatre and speech from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia and a Master’s in Theatre from the University of North Texas. She played the romantic lead in the famous outdoor drama The Common Glory and then became “Miss Patty” on the nationally syndicated children’s TV show Romper Room. Also in 2003, the Garland ISD Fine Arts Division recognized Ms. Granville by naming an annual high school theatre awards program in her honor.
Performance Home for Local Affiliate Arts Organizations
The Granville Arts Center provides a performance home for: Garland Civic Theatre; Garland Summer Musicals; Garland Symphony Orchestra Association; and the Garland Civic Theatre's Children On Stage. These Affiliate Arts Organizations attract major audiences for the Arts Center. Garland’s audience base has proved to be one of the largest of all Dallas Suburbs. The fact that two-thirds of the season ticket holders come from outside the Garland area is a compliment to the professional quality of the local arts groups.
Each year more than 170,000 people visit these cultural facilities to attend hundreds of plays, concerts, meetings, seminars, receptions and various other activities which utilize the facilities on a year round basis. Building the Arts Center and The Atrium; restoring the Plaza Theatre; renovating the Pace House; and creating the Garland Cultural Arts Commission are a commitment by the City of Garland to allocate time and funding to encourage the growth of the cultural arts in Garland. The City is proud to continue a tradition of dedication and support of the arts which rivals that of any other suburb in the Metroplex. This is just one more positive step for the growth and enhancement of the quality of life for the City of Garland.