In 1997, the voters of Garland approved a bond program that provided for expansion of the Garland Performing Arts Center and renovation of the Plaza Theatre on the Square in Historic 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 special event facility. The magnificent renovation of the Arts Center features a spacious lobby, additional women’s restrooms, a concession area, a new box office, new dressing rooms, and a scene shop adjacent to the small theatre. 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.