The Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts has acquired the former Synovus Bank property near Downtown Valdosta, expanding the Center’s campus located on Webster Street, from N. Patterson Street to N. Ashley Street. The acquisition, made official in March 2021 through a donation from Dan and Carolyn Coleman, adds three properties to the Turner Center’s campus including the former bank building at 512 N. Ashley Street, a building at 506 N. Ashley Street, and a parking lot adjacent to the current Turner Center main parking lot.
The expansion will allow the Center to continue its mission as the regional hub for arts education, cultural enrichment and entertainment and will provide for its continued growth.
This acquisition comes after the Turner Center’s recent addition of the Art Park in 2019, located at 605 N. Patterson, which has become the popular community gathering place for the Music in the Art Park concert series, art classes, the ARToberfest exhibition annually in October, and other special events.
Plans for the former bank building include enclosing the drive-through lanes to provide more interior space for the Meta Shaw Coleman Children’s Art Museum—named after Dan Coleman’s late mother. Meta Shaw Coleman was beloved by many who remember her as an early childhood educator who founded and operated a nursery school, taught at Valdosta City Schools, Valwood School and Wiregrass Technical College, and served many local organizations and boards to advance the quality of education and life in our community.
“Carolyn and I are honored that this new children’s art museum will bear the name of my mother,” said Dan Coleman. “Her life mission was caring for her children and the children of this community. This Children’s Art Museum will continue the mission of my mother and is certainly an honor of which she would have been proud to be a part.”
The Meta Shaw Coleman Children’s Art Museum is expected to open in fall 2022 and will house a variety of art and STEAM activities for youth to engage for educational and creativity purposes. Educational stations will be sponsored by area businesses and will cater to the imagination of children while incorporating various science, technology, engineering, art and math elements for an interactive and innovative learning experience. In addition, art installations from area schools will be displayed inside the facility capturing the creativity of our youth year-round. The facility’s rear exit will open into a courtyard with public art, a small staging area, a sitting area, and additional activities for youth to enjoy with their families.
“The Valdosta-Lowndes Arts Commission Board and the Turner Center staff are excited to embark on this innovative, community outreach program for our area youth,” said Executive Director Sementha Mathews. “While we wait for the completed project, student visitors to the Center will begin to see STEAM activities incorporated into our regularly-scheduled art exhibits in the galleries, stretching the imaginations and creativity of our young people. We need to embrace the youth now to preserve the arts for the future.”
The 506 N. Ashley Street property, which has been the location of various businesses in the past, provides the Turner Center with yet another opportunity to introduce a new program to its campus. Center staff is collaborating with professional artists across the region to launch a glassblowing program that utilizes glass in creating original pieces of art. This program is expected to be available to patrons in fall 2021.
The acquired parking lot adjacent to the Center’s current main lot will provide the much-needed overflow of parking for patrons who attend a myriad of Center functions. The new properties will add 57 parking spaces for patrons.
The Turner Center is seeking business and corporate sponsorships for these local and regional projects. For more information, call Mathews at 229-247-2787 or visit the main office at 527 N. Patterson Street. Patrons who want to stay informed with local and regional art activities, the upcoming Spring Into Art Gala and Exhibition, the 2021-2022 Presenter Series season, and other art and culturally-enriching activities and events, are invited to sign up for the weekly Art Talks e-newsletter at turnercenter.org.