Major Development Made in Attracting Arts Programs to McClellan
By Sherry Kughn
JSU News Bureau
June 24, 2004 — The Alabama Symphony Orchestra has
announced its decision to make Calhoun County’s former Fort McClellan its permanent summer home.
Kicking off this new relationship, the Joint Powers Authority (JPA), which is responsible for the reuse
of the old military base, created an outdoor concert series known as Music at McClellan. Four recent concerts
were recently presented for varying musical tastes.
The series, which attracted about 6,500 fans, has triggered a much larger interest in developing the arts
at McClellan. Officials are now discussing an expansion that would include a multifaceted cultural program
involving the performing arts, visual arts, architectural arts, literary arts, and more.
“Most of the successful cultural development models seem to include an educational component, and I suppose
that’s for two basic reasons—first, to create another generation of artists and, second, because it’s really
good business,” said Pete Conroy, director of JSU’s Environmental Policy and Information Center.
Mr. Conroy, who also serves on the JPA board of directors and chairs the Music at McClellan series, says he
and area officials are keeping their eyes on the “global cultural development picture” and exploring how
McClellan can fit into it. According to a recent article in the Anniston Star, the non-profit arts
industry produces $36.8 billion in annual revenue.
To foster this cultural development, the JPA has entered into an additional partnership with the Alabama State
Council on the Arts and, according to JPA Director Dan Cleckler, a series of planning meetings will be held
this summer. Several units of the council have visited McClellan to look at the possibility of locating there.
These units include the Alabama Writer’s Forum; Design Alabama, the architectural arm of the Council; the Alabama
Dance Council; Alabama Folklife Association; and the Alabama Alliance for Arts Education.
Architects associated with Design Alabama are drawing plans to show reuse concepts involving a cluster of
historically preserved buildings at McClellan that might be used for performances, educational ventures,
studio space, and retail establishments. A next step is to approach developers, foundations, and banks to
seek ideas and funding to implement the plans.
In a related matter, two JSU professors, Dr. Steve Whitton and Ms. Judy McKibbin, took part in a panel
discussion earlier this year to further the possibility of establishing a writer’s residency program at
First Draft, The Journal of Alabama Writers’ Forum (AWF), featured an article in its spring
edition titled “Literary Possibilities at McClellan.” Potential development of several literary
programs on the McClellan property were outlined.
The article recognized the contributions toward literary awareness in Calhoun County made by JSU English
Department’s “On the Brink” program and the Southern Playwrights Competition.
Dr. Whitton and Ms. McKibbin, both English professors, spoke at a luncheon attended by board members
of the Alabama Writers’ Forum. Others who contributed information to the board were Ms. Bonnie Seymour,
head of the Public Library of Anniston-Calhoun County and co-director of Accent on the Author, and
Mr. Bruce Lowry, book page editor at the Anniston Star.
Current and future discussions between the council and the JPA will also consider the implementation
of summer camp programs for art students of all ages.
Submit items for
news releases by using the request form at http://www.jsu.edu/news/requestform.html.