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When new outdoor event venue set to open in downtown Gainesville
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The new outdoor stage and pavilion at The Arts Council in Gainesville is taking shape Tuesday, June 24, 2020, and will open this summer, ready to host performances, fundraisers and weddings. - photo by Scott Rogers

A new outdoor stage and pavilion at the Smithgall Arts Center could be ready in mid-July, providing a new event space in downtown Gainesville. 

Construction began in January. The 6,300-square-foot venue is a more than $1 million project that has been funded by private donations. The stage will be 50 feet long and 50 feet wide, and the space will host events such as performances and weddings. 

Gladys Wyant, executive director of The Arts Council, said the space can accommodate a diverse array of events. 

“We can accommodate a large orchestra, or down to a single performer for an outdoor concert,” Wyant said. “And basically, we turn the stage around, and it’s indoors and can handle a nice-sized group as well.” 

Some painting, light fixture installation, air conditioning installation and electrical work still needs to be done, Wyant said.  

The pavilion will be able to seat 300, while the rest of the grounds will be able to seat more than 2,000 people. 

The project has seen some delays, mostly due to rainy weather, but Wyant said contractors have been accommodating.  

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The new outdoor stage and pavilion at The Arts Council in Gainesville is taking shape Tuesday, June 24, 2020, and will open this summer, ready to host performances, fundraisers and weddings. - photo by Scott Rogers

 

“Because of COVID-19, we couldn’t really utilize the space even if it was completed,” she said.  

Wyant said the large lawn can also be used for social distancing, as other indoor venues would not offer enough space for events to be held with precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Arts Council hopes to schedule some outdoor concerts, including its jazz series, at the outdoor space before the summer ends, she said.  

The Smithgall Arts Center, at 331 Spring St. Southwest, is a former railroad depot that was renovated by The Arts Council to host events. The Arts Council also has a Performing Arts Complex at the former home of First Methodist Church of Gainesville at the corner of Green and West Academy streets downtown. Recent improvements at that facility include a new roof and sprinkler system, according to The Arts Council’s website.  

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The new outdoor stage and pavilion at The Arts Council in Gainesville is taking shape Tuesday, June 24, 2020, and will open this summer, ready to host performances, fundraisers and weddings. - photo by Scott Rogers
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