The A. Frank Smith Fine Arts Building at the former Lon Morris College was opened in 1953. Encompassing the 325 seat Zula Pearson Theatre, dance studio, multiple classrooms and practice areas, and full scenery and costume shops, the building has hosted hundreds of productions and educated generations of performing arts students.
In 2012, Lon Morris College filed for bankruptcy, and the property abandoned. The Fine Arts building, while still housing technical equipment and theatre props, was out of commission.
In 2015, Jacksonville Performing Arts Company was formed, gaining 501(c)3 non-profit status. They were also presented with a phenomenal opportunity. If they could raise adequate funding to demonstrate the ability to rejuvenate and maintain the facility, they would be given a five year lease.
The founding members reached out to the community and Lon Morris alumni, receiving considerable interest and support for trying to preserve both the building and their memories. While gathering many promises of volunteers and some monetary donations, it has not yet proven sufficient to secure the facility.
The JackPAC members continue to move ahead, having both held and participated in events for the Jacksonville community. Many plans are underway for 2016, but much of them depend on aquiring the A. Frank Smith Fine Arts Building. If Jacksonville Performing Arts Company is unable to do so, it is likely this beautiful space for the arts will be used for an entirely different purpose.
Support from enthusiastic local leadership, positive attitudes from within and around the community, local entrepreneurship support and investments like yours are what we need to succeed.