FLORENCE – Francis Marion University today received a gift from Progress Energy as part of the electric utility’s support of the university’s performing arts center.
Progress Energy’s $100,000 donation will fund a new concert series, which is part of the FMU Performing Arts Center’s inaugural season. The Progress Energy Concert Series will include country, jazz, bluegrass, gospel, classical, big band, Celtic, blues or rock performances.
“With this $100,000 check, Progress Energy has given us over half a million dollars in just over a decade,” said FMU President Luther F. Carter. “These donations have funded needs-based scholarships, a library technology center, and now support for the performing arts center. In addition to this philanthropic support, Progress Energy has been a strong partner with the university in any number of projects throughout the community and the region.”
FMU will pull the curtain on a new performing arts center in 2011. The $34 million center represents the culmination of five years of collaborative effort.
“We have worked together for more than a year to bring this series to the region. It’s very exciting to see the fruits of our labors,” said Melody Birmingham-Byrd, vice president of Progress Energy’s Southern Region. “We are proud to be part of this inaugural season and welcome the opportunity to support the arts at Francis Marion University.”
Encompassing 61,000-square-feet, the facility will feature three performance venues: a 900-seat multipurpose hall, a black box theater seating 100, and an outdoor amphitheater that can accommodate 500 people. The main theater will be supplemented by a full orchestra pit that can hold 80 people with instruments, and a 78-foot fly tower containing the rigging for productions.
In addition to university instruction and programs, the center will be available for community use.
The project has been funded largely by appropriations from the state of South Carolina and the city of Florence, and grants from the non-profit Drs. Bruce & Lee Foundation.