The New Tampa Performing Arts Center (NTPAC) isn’t quite open for business yet, but the ribbon at the new facility has been cut.
A gathering of roughly 50 local dignitaries, residents and politicians gathered on Oct. 17 to snip the ribbon and get a peek at the new facility.
There wasn’t too much to see — some of the classroom areas are close to completion and the stage has taken shape, but there are no seats and no orchestra pit just yet — although after using little more than their respective imaginations for more than 20 years, it was a pleasant sight for those involved in the decades-long attempts to build the center.
The NTPAC dates back to 2001, when Hunter’s Green resident Graeme Woodbrook formed a committee of those involved in the New Tampa arts scene to pursue the idea. The vision was grand — a 50,000-, or even 65,000-sq.-ft. cultural center that would put New Tampa on the map and be the area’s anchor.
The current NTPAC is 20,000 sq. ft., but is expandable to 30,000 sq. ft.
Woodbrook and his group eventually formed a nonprofit organization called the New Tampa Cultural Arts Center, but attempts to find a home for the center, and the support they sought, fizzled by 2005 and the nonprofit dissolved.
However, Doug Wall, who founded the still-vibrant New Tampa Players theatre troupe and served on that nonprofit committee, continued the fight.
Woodbrook was on hand at the ribbon cutting, along with former Tampa City Councilman Shawn Harrison, District 2 County Commissioner Ken Hagan and former District 2 Commissioner (and State Sen.) Victor Crist, all of whom played vital roles in keeping the dream alive for so many years.
Wall passed away from cancer in 2017. Without Wall and Woodbrook, the NTPAC would have never come to fruition, according to Hagan.
Nora Paine, the current producing artistic director of the New Tampa Players, said the opening of the NTPAC for the troupe’s first performance, likely sometime in early 2023, will usher in the vision of the original theatre pioneers, and be a haven for those interested in the arts.
“For 20 years, we have made progress in building the New Tampa arts community,” Paine said. “I cannot wait for us all of us to see how the New Tampa Players and the whole New Tampa arts community will be able to flourish with an affordable, reliable and permanent home, here at the New Tampa Performing Arts Center.”