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King Center is a Hub for Performing Arts and Youth Outreach

By Kelly Church

The Maxwell C. King Center in Melbourne, FL is a performing arts center that, as a nearly $13 million investment, features a 2,000-seat theatre and a smaller 288-seat theatre, among other features. As part of Eastern Florida State College, the center is a hub for social events, theatre, dance, film screenings and concerts.

Autumn Shrum, Marketing Director for the performing arts center, says the facility's mission is to improve the quality of life for the residents of Melbourne, specifically Brevard County, through "cultural, educational, recreational and community arts programs, by providing access to high quality, challenging and diverse touring and local performing arts events." In other words, the King Center wants to be the area's main cultural and artistic resource.

"Originally named the Brevard Performing Arts Center, the King Center was the vision of the former Brevard Community College president Dr. Maxwell C. King," Shrum says. "His vision became a reality in 1988 when the doors first opened, fulfilling the need for a professional performing arts center in Brevard County. The King Center presents a variety of performing arts and entertainment, including but not limited to rock concerts, classical artists, vocal groups, dance, comedy and so much more."

Upcoming events include The Nutcracker, a Christmas tradition at the facility, which stars two internationally acclaimed principal dancers this year ? Dusty Botton and Roddy Doble. The center is also hosting an upcoming preview for the popular television series Downton Abbey. Guests are encouraged to come dressed in Downton Abbey attire and participate in a raffle. In February, Penn & Teller will be coming to the King Center to perform their internationally recognized magic show. However, the King Center isn't strictly for performances.

"The King Center is also a popular venue for many community events such as graduations, recitals, seminars and conferences," Shrum says. "One of the programs we take the most pride in is our Theatre for Youth and Outreach Program, which provides an educational and cultural experience for school age children."

The Theatre for Youth and Outreach Program gives kids in the area an opportunity to experience the creative and theatrical arts. With live theatre, music, dance, plays, interactive workshops, school assemblies and training for teachers, the program busses groups of children from local schools and gives them an opportunity to explore different artistic outlets.

"For many, this is their first experience in a theatre setting, and out Theatre for Youth Department works closely with the school district to tie in the curriculum with our performances," Shrum says. "Introducing kids to the arts is so important. It provides them with a rich educational and cultural experience that they may take with them into adulthood."

Programs like Theatre for Youth and Outreach and theatrical performances are supported by the community through memberships, donations, sponsors and repeat patrons. Shrum says the community is "tremendously supportive" of the King Center's work. Donations help to offset artist fees, production costs and facility maintenance. Shrum says the only reason the Maxwell C. King Center has been able to flourish for nearly 30 years is because of generous donations that have helped to keep the professional-quality performances alive.

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