New space, new opportunities at TFAC

Published 12:33 pm Monday, March 23, 2020

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For more than 50 years Tryon Fine Arts Center has stood proudly on Melrose Avenue – a home for Tryon’s artistic community. Last year alone, events at TFAC were attended by more than 18,000 people. Those events included concerts, dance performances, lectures, comedy shows, films, student art exhibitions as well as the classical music series presented by Tryon Concert Association and theatrical presentation by Tryon Little Theater. These activities were presented and performed either on the Veh Stage in the main auditorium or in the Peterson Amphitheater, all while construction has been underway for a much-needed extension to the main building.

Since last September a dedicated team from Harper General Contractors has been at work renovating TFAC’s existing building and constructing a pavilion addition, designed by Tryon architect John Walters. In a short amount of time, the 3-story structure has grown on the north side of the original building. 

While passersby have had the opportunity to view the progress from the outside, the interior also has been progressing with layers of plumbing, electrical, dry wall, and flooring — items that all construction undergoes – but an additional layer of technical features are also being installed. These include specialized acoustical material for the ceiling and sound dampening panels for the walls as well as enhanced lighting for theatrical and public events. Other necessities include an enlarged green room for performers, public restrooms, catering facilities, and convenient storage for production equipment.

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True to the pledge by the TFAC Board of Directors that no debt be incurred, the entire construction project broke ground last fall after the capital for the project had been raised. Funding came primarily from private donations, a generous grant from Polk County Community Foundation and other promotional activities, most notably the OVER THE TOP week-long fundraiser that featured over 200 community volunteer entertainers

The renovation and addition will provide two important new public areas: a gallery and pavilion. The Jeanne Parker Gallery, named in memory of long-time TFAC Board secretary, major donor and friend, will be a spacious new exhibition area. Unlike the former gallery on the middle floor of the original building, this generous new space will be completely accessible, without stairs, to all visitors. It will also be available for receptions, meetings, lectures and other small gatherings.

The pavilion, a completely new performance area, with seating for small audiences of approximately 100, will be a showcase for recitals, readings, discussion groups, and educational activities, including the PacJAM music program for children. The new pavilion space will be extremely flexible with removable seating and staging.

TFAC Executive director, Marianne Carruth, is particularly excited about the new public spaces, saying “We had outgrown our original building.  We now have a beautiful space that will meet the demand for our art education and small audience programs. We look forward to sharing this space with other arts organizations in the area. TFAC’s mission serves both performing and visual arts. This new space will give us greater opportunities to do just that.”

Once the project is complete and the current national emergency subsides, TFAC will celebrate the new facility with a community opening.

More information about Tryon Fine Arts Center is available online at or by calling 828-859-8322.


Jessica Gilbert