DR. PHILLIPS — Hundreds of floating multi-colored paper stars marked the beginning of a new era in Central Florida arts with the opening of the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, in downtown Orlando. A media preview and open house held Nov. 6 drew reporters and photographers, as well as dozens of arts patrons and key dignitaries, to the Seneff Arts Plaza just west of the new complex.
Jim Pugh recognized current and past mayors of the city of Orlando and Orange County for their vision and courage in bringing this facility to Central Florida.
“I don’t think there’s a mayor in America who’s having as much fun as I am right now,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said.
“This dream started decades ago,” he said, acknowledging the groundwork of former Orlando mayor Bill Frederick, who was in the audience, and Glenda Hood.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs shared Dyer’s enthusiasm: “I am the happiest, proudest county mayor in the country.”
Jacobs said this community dream was also shared by Linda Chapin, the first chairman of the Orange County Commission.
“This center is not about doing the arts, “said Jim Seneff, CEO of CNL Financial Group. “It’s about experiencing the arts.”
Other speakers included Jim MacPhee, senior vice president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts; Alex Martins, Orlando Magic CEO; John Martin, president of The Capital Grille; Steven Leary, vice mayor of Winter Park; and Dr. Jose B. Fernandez, dean of the University of Central Florida’s College of Arts & Humanities.
The performing arts project sits on nine acres between Rosalind and Orange avenues to the east and west and South and Anderson streets to the north and south. Once all phases are completed, the center will have three performance theaters, an outdoor performance plaza, rehearsal rooms, administrative offices and arts education spaces. There will be rental space and opportunities for arts education, as well.
Kathy Ramsberger, president and CEO of the center, said there are only 36 such facilities in the world.
The Dr. Phillips Center’s grand premiere continued with a community open house, a free concert with singer Sheryl Crow, a family festival, local arts group performances and a celebration with national Broadway talent.