In the heart of downtown Florence, South Carolina sits the 61,000 square feet Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center. It is located at 201 South Dargan Street and can be accessed from Interstate 20 and Interstate 95. Directions can be found on the FMU Performing Arts Center website. Parking is available on Cheves, Dargan and Irby streets and is wheelchair accessible at the Cheves Street parking area. Call the FMU Performing Arts Center for information at 843-661-1720.
The FMU Performing Arts Center was built and designed to handle several types of venues. The building includes an 849-seat auditorium with a fly-stage, a 100-seat flexible Black Box space and an Academic wing for the Francis Marion University Department of Fine Arts.
The FMU Performing Arts Center was made possible by the joint efforts of Francis Marion University, the City of Florence, the Doctors Bruce and Lee Foundation and gifts from local individuals and companies.
Ground was broken for the FMU Performing Arts Center in January of 2009 and, in September of 2011, the first events were held. After only two years of operation the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center has ended the 2012-2013 year in the black with a profit on the season. Between performances, rentals and academic and community events can be held; more than 24,000 people were able to enjoy this new facility this past season.
The coming 2013-2014 season will be ushered in with a concert from Brass Transit with a tribute to the jazz-rock group Chicago. Also on tap for the season is a January 2014 performance of ‘Smokey Joe’s Café’ and in May 2014 a production of ‘Bring It On: The Musical’.
Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center
Francis Marion Performing Arts Center consists of 61,000 square feet of performing space. The Center features an 849 seat main stage with a fly tower, a 100 seat black box and an academic wing of the Francis Marion University Department of Fine Arts.
The Main Stage auditorium
The Main stage auditorium is the largest venue in the FMU Performing Arts Center. It has an orchestra pit with an automatic orchestra shell. The auditorium can host a variety of professional productions including solo performances and 80 member orchestra ensembles.
Black Box space in the Francis Marion Performing Arts Center
The Black Box space is painted black in order to provide focus for the audience during a play or concert. The Black Box is a more intimate space and includes adjustable seating for 100 attendees. This space can be rented for receptions or other small venues.
The BB&T Ampitheatre
The BB&T Amphitheatre is a semicircular outdoor seating area that can seat about 200 people with an upper area that will seat around 300 people. The floor of the amphitheatre is built with spaced concrete pavers allowing grass to grow through giving it an outdoor feel.
Upper and lower balconies are spacious and can be used for small community or corporate events and private functions. The décor of this space was designed to instill a feel for the era of Dizzy Gillespie, a native of the Florence region.
Materials used for the building of the upper and lower balconies were re-purposed from local sources such as veteran headstones that could not be used and blue granite from the Winnsboro, South Carolina mine before it closed down.
Behind the Academic Wing is a Garden Courtyard which was established in honor of Beverly Hazelwood and Starr Ward, residents of the Florence area and prominent women in the musical performance arena. Donations from Adele Kassab made this area possible. It is a gathering place for patrons to enjoy during intermissions.
Second floor terrace
A long terrace on the second floor gives patrons a place to mingle before, during and after the events at the FMU Performing Arts Center. The terrace is dedicated to the FMU Performing Arts Center Foundation which is a community group that was fundamental in the development of the FMU Performing Arts Center.
The Academic Wing
The Academic Wing located on the second floor, is dedicated to the Francis Marion University Music Industry Program. The FMU MIP program includes the combination of business and performance classes both in voice and instrumental studies. The Academic Wing includes rehearsal/performance space; recording and sound facilities as well as faculty offices, a music lab, computers and software spaces to aid students in their musical studies.