Victoria’s arts scene has been active for years with the Victoria Ballet Theatre, Victoria Symphony Orchestra and Theatre Victoria, and the community is building on that support, literally. Larger audiences will be able to take in performances after the December 2010 opening of The Victoria Fine Arts Center.
“The arts scene in Victoria is alive and thriving,” says Jay Lester, director of fine arts for the Victoria Independent School District. “As a city we have several arts groups and organizations that promote arts, music, dance and theater. There is always a quality event or program to attend.”
Arts in Education
For Victoria arts patrons, 2011 ushers in a new era for performances with the opening of the Victoria Independent School District's Victoria Fine Arts Center on the old high school campus at the Advanced Learning Center. It is the largest venue with auditorium seating in the city.
The facility — a part of a bond package passed by voters in 2007 — has 1,482 seats, a stage and state-of-the-art sound and projection systems. The Fine Arts Center will primarily be used by VISD, but the community will be able to rent the facility on available dates.
“The school system has always had a need for a large auditorium to showcase the students of Victoria,” Lester says, adding that enrollment in arts courses in the high schools has increased over the last three years.
The Fine Arts Center will be used for music concerts, dance recitals, theatrical productions, school-wide programs, meetings and ceremonies.
VISD also fostered performing arts within the schools by adding auditoriums to two new high schools.
The Victoria East and Victoria West high schools, completed by the start of the 2009 school year, both have auditoriums with 500 seats. The auditoriums also have state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems.
Arts in the City
VISD’s growing arts programs are joining an already vibrant cultural scene in the city of Victoria.
“If I wanted to, I could stay busy every night of the week,” says Joe Baugh, executive director of the Victoria Cultural Council. Baugh says he has gone out more in the six years he has lived in Victoria than in the time he lived in Houston.
Baugh says some of the best events in town are the Victoria JazzFest presented by the Victoria Fine Arts Association held every April, museums such as Nave Museum and the Museum of the Coastal Bend, and the symphony and ballet company.
“We have good entertainment here at a very good price,” he says.
Victoria also has phenomenal facilities like the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts, he adds.
Theatre Victoria is the center’s resident theater company. The company produces three musicals and two plays a year as well as bringing in outside artists to perform.
“We try to bring artists here so you don’t have to drive two and a half hours to San Antonio,” says Julie Zimmerman, general manager of Theatre Victoria. “We try to bring in something that you don’t see every day.”
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