Suffolk Center New Beginnings: Exhibit celebrates TowneBank support for renovations

Published 4:23 pm Friday, August 11, 2023

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Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts kicks-off its 18th season with the New Beginnings exhibition opening reception celebrating the capital campaign support that provided funding for critical renovations.

The reception and ribbon cutting is set for 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17, at the center. The special art reception includes a ribbon cutting and gallery dedication to TowneBank for its support of the center’s capital campaign, according to a news release. The event is free and open to the public. 

The New Beginnings art exhibition features work by the Suffolk Center instructors Beth Blanchard, Chelsie Brown, Soonja Woo Cho, Rhona Dawson, Barbara Harris, Tommy Johnson, Larry LeMasters, Rami McKinney, Cynthia Quesenberry, Rachel Vredenburg and Sandy Waters. In addition, it includes a one-of-a-kind Lego model of the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts built in a mini-figure scale (1:42) by Jim Beute. 

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As the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts approached its 100th anniversary, officials said in the release that it became apparent that significant renovations and improvements were needed. The center was in a state of disrepair and, if it were to continue its next century of serving the community, major funding was needed to complete the necessary repairs. 

In response, SCCA initiated its silent phase of a $4.5 million capital campaign in 2019. 

At the very beginning of the silent phase, prior to any donations, Mac Birdsong, the chairman of the Suffolk Center’s Capital Campaign Committee, invited TowneBank Executive ChairmanBob Aston to tour the center. 

Birdsong and Aston agreed the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts is an essential component to the revitalization of the Downtown Suffolk community, and to the quality of life in the entire Hampton Roads region. 

“As a result of that initial conversation,” Birdsong said, “TowneBank, alongside Birdsong Corporation, became the first and one of the largest supporters of the Suffolk Center’s capital campaign.” 

Considering its major contribution to the center, the Suffolk Center’s Board approved the naming of the Suffolk Center’s West Gallery the TowneBank Gallery. 

Due to the generosity and support of TowneBank and Birdsong, SCCA officials said the gallery is re-opening with new floors, walls and windows. 

“Since its opening in 2006, the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts has educated, entertained, and enlightened thousands of guests through outstanding performances, visual and performing arts classes, workshops, gallery exhibits, and special events,” Aston said. “Through the campaign, the center will continue to inspire the community and enrich lives through the arts. TowneBank was pleased to partner with our friends at Birdsong Peanuts in kicking off the capital campaign to help ensure that the center can continue its mission and vision.”  

Their impact on the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts goes beyond the TowneBank gallery. Construction is being completed on the third wall of the building, and recently began on the fourth and final wall. Expected completion for the renovations is January 2024.

Please note that while renovations continue on the west side of the Suffolk Center there is a temporary entrance located off the parking lot, behind the center. 

For more information please contact Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts at 757-923-0003, or visit Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts is located in historic downtown at 110 W. Finney Ave.