Suwanee Performing Arts (SPA) is a nonprofit community arts organization founded on the principle “art is life.” SPA provides high-quality performance opportunities to, and by, the community, focusing on youth who may not have the opportunity to otherwise express themselves through the performing arts.
Shortly after opening the doors to Suwanee Academy of the Arts (SAA) in 2003, it became apparent to founders Berneta Bock Davis and Patricia Etherton that a discipline-based arts education was only part of the total arts experience. Bock and Etherton, both performers for more than twenty-five years, knew firsthand how valuable the arts are to a community. At the time, the local community offered few opportunities for live performance. Thus, the two performers created Suwanee Performing Arts (SPA) and established it as 501(c)(3) in 2007.
A youth dance company with performers from six to eighteen years of age. The dancers participate in master classes and performances throughout a yearlong commitment, including local festivals, annual winter and spring performances, and Children’s Ballets centered on introducing dance to very young children.
An improvisational group. Middle and high school company members participate in a special improv-based drama class at Suwanee Academy of the Arts and go on to perform in special showcases and events supporting SPA and other nonprofits around the community.
An a cappella vocal jazz ensemble made up of local high school students.
A theater troupe open to performers of all ages. Participants audition to take part in each event; there are usually 2-3 productions each season.
While the Sounds of Suwanee is no longer performing, Suwanee Ballet, Community Art Players, and The Actor’s Company are still going strong!
SPA’s most ambitious event of the year is Broadway in the Park (BIP), signature summer musicals performed over two consecutive evenings in Suwanee’s beautiful Town Center Park each July. By turning the outdoor amphitheater into a Broadway-style stage with professional lighting, sound, costumes, and sets, our community’s talented high school, middle school and home-schooled students experience local stardom as they perform for the masses. The shows are presented to the public for free—SPA does not sell tickets, although priority seating is offered to corporate sponsors and individual donors in exchange for their tax-deductible gifts.
BIP draws capacity crowds for these performances. Families tend to arrive early to stake out a spot in front of the stage, then make a day of it in the park. Local food trucks provide refreshments in the park itself, and many audience members also patronize the fine local restaurants and shops of Suwanee Town Center before the show begins and at intermission. City officials have placed past attendance at approximately 4,000 people per each of the two Broadway in the Park performances.