Arts Council Timeline

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Establishment of the Arts Council

June 26, 1970


The Arts Council received its articles of incorporation 

After a group of citizens dedicated to the arts, in either their occupations, personal endeavors, or both, came together with the common goal of creating an organization that would use its influence to promote the arts in Tuscaloosa County. Doris Leapard and Dr. Allen Bales, head of the speech department at UA, were the first co-chairs. Also included were Louise Temerson, Morris Sokol, Jack Warner, Fred Prentice, Allen Bales, Mrs. Eric Baklanoff, Phoebe Barr, and John Ross. Officers were elected at a later date. (Image from an early newsletter)

Early 1970s

Old newspaper article clipping

The First Member Organizations

Were Tuscaloosa Civic Chorus, Tuscaloosa Community Singers, Tuscaloosa Community Theatre, Tuscaloosa Men’s Camelia Club, Tuscaloosa Preservation Society, West Alabama Art Association, and the West Alabama Gospel Singers. (Image courtesy The Tuscaloosa News, Early 1970s)


Vintage newspaper clipping showing photo of woman

The Arts Council’s first program, SUGAR

(Schools Using Greater Arts Resources) was established. The program evolved to SPECTRA (Special Teaching Resources in the Arts).


Old newspaper article clipping

Joined by Theatre Tuscaloosa

They are joined by Theatre Tuscaloosa (prior Tuscaloosa Community Players) which is celebrating its 50th year in 2021 with its 2020-2021 season. (Images courtesy of The Tuscaloosa News clockwise: Summer 1975; January 14, 1976; June 4, 1976)


Bama leased by Arts Council

Joint project with PARA and UA and became a Performing Arts Center; Joan Brown named manager (Image courtesy of The Tuscaloosa News, Early 1970s) 


501c3 status was granted by the IRS


The first schools program director was hired.

(Image featuring a performance by Palisades Theatre in a local school, courtesy of The Tuscaloosa News, October 26, 1979)


Grand opening of the Junior League Gallery

Grand opening of the Junior League Gallery at the Bama Theatre. The balcony lobby was converted into a gallery space as a project by the Junior League of Tuscaloosa.


The first Annual West AL Juried Art Show

The first Annual West AL Juried Art Show was held at the Junior League Gallery.(Images clockwise, An early West Alabama Juried Show featuring the winners, courtesy of The Tuscaloosa News, Fall 1989; Jack Leigh Exhibit, courtesy of The Tuscaloosa News, April 13, 1986; James Conner and Yvonne Wells at a WAJS reception in the 1990s, photo by Sonja Ryberg; UA Faculty Exhibit in JLG courtesy of The Tuscaloosa News, mid 1980s)


The first season of Bama Fanfare

The first season of Bama Fanfare was presented. (Pictured right, images from “Bambi: A Life in the Woods” prior to showtime in 1999.


Bama Theatre Renovation

Major Renovation of the Bama Theatre completed. (Images courtesy of The Tuscaloosa News, Left, January 27, 1985, and Right, January 26, 1986)


The Arts Council Becomes Partners with Westwood Elementary

The Arts Council became partners with Westwood Elementary in the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama’s Adopt-a-School program. A student is pictured participating in the Tuscaloosa Symphony Guild’s Instrument Petting Zoo. Spectrafest continues to bring the arts to Westwood students.


Druid Arts Awards was Established as a Recurring Ceremony

Pictured are board members John Owens and Gina McPherson at the 1994 DAA luncheon with Education Director Marcia Hood looking on. (Photo by Sonja Ryberg)


35mm Projector Purchased Through Stars of the Silver Screen Campaign

The Silver Screen Movie Series was established that eventually evolved into the current Bama Art House Series. (Photo of Stars of the Silver Screen Gala at the Bama Theatre, April, 1999)


The Double Exposure Statewide Photography Competition was Established

Winning photo by Eugene Cuevas


The First Poetry Out Loud Competition

The first Poetry Out Loud competition was held at the Bama Theatre in cooperation with the Alabama State Council on the Arts.


Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center Grand Opening

he center opened on August 13, 2013 on Dinah Washington’s birthday. Two of Washington’s granddaughters and a great granddaughter conducted the ribbon cutting.


Restoration of Original Murals in the Bama

Painted by Navino Nataloni (1937-1938) by artist Ruth O’Connor


Proludio Digital Projection System Installed

The system replaced the platter system installed in 1999 that utilized 35mm film.


Digital Marquee Installed

The original 1938 neon BAMA lettering was preserved along with other elements around the new marquee. (Photo by David H. Jones.)


West Alabama Arts Education Collaborative Established

West Alabama Arts Education Collaborative established in cooperation with the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Images from The Alberta School of Performing Arts (top, staff photo) and Myrtlewood Elementary (bottom, courtesy of The Tuscaloosa News, January 16, 2019)

Also celebrating 50 in 2020 is the Prentice Concert Chorale (prior Tuscaloosa Community Singers). Images courtesy The Tuscaloosa News clockwise : March 6, 1975; January 6, 1974; GRAPHIC, August 31-September 1, 1973)

Old newspaper article clipping with image of three women sitting around table smiling and looking at piece of paper.

Lou Wall and the Tuscaloosa Community Dancers article. (Image courtesy The Tuscaloosa News, Early 1970s)

Vintage newspaper article clipping

Images of Tuscaloosa Community Players courtesy The Tuscaloosa News clockwise: March 2, 1976; April 20, 1975; April 16, 1976

Punch and Judy Players planning session, forerunner of Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre. (Image courtesy The Tuscaloosa News, March 13, 1977)