ROSWELL, Ga. - Roswell's Cultural Arts Center, the heart of live theater performances for North Fulton, has a new face walking its halls. It has a new coordinator who goes by the name Sarah Chandler.
Growing up in Macon, Chandler got into theater at an early age, joining her high school's theater department.
“I have acted multiple times,” she said, “but it stresses me out. I get nervous and generally shake.”
Behind the scenes worked better for her.
She studied sociology at Wesleyan College before working in Virginia for the Richmond Theater of Virginia, shortly before it folded in 2002. She went on to graduate school at Virginia Tech to study theater management.
“It was a great experience,” she said. “I got to be in the mountains.”
From there, she went to work for The Public in New York. While she said she enjoyed her time there, something was missing.
“You live to work and you work to live,” she said. “There was not a lot of social time or connecting with other people there.”
She moved to Asheville, N.C., for a stint before she got an offer to work for the Pig Iron Theater Company in Philadelphia as a stage and production manager. However, the bug to return home grew on her and she returned to Georgia to be with family.
“I decided to move before I had a job,” she said.
Luckily, Roswell was able to help there. Chandler saw the job posting for the Cultural Arts Center and applied, eventually getting the job.
“This is way better than any of the things I was applying to,” she said. “This is exactly what I should be doing.”
She began work Sept. 3, barely a week back in the state, and hit the ground running by helping put on the recent Crystal Bowersox concert at the Cultural Arts Center.
“She's highly qualified and has a great deal of experience in theater production and managing facilities,” said Morgan Timmis, Roswell's cultural arts coordinator. “She's doing a great job here. I expect she will bring a lot of fresh ideas and enthusiasm to the position.”
And Chandler has some fresh ideas.
She said that while the Cultural Arts Center has a strong presence in visual arts, there is more that could be done. Despite local dance companies being well aware of the CAC, talent of other venues - such as local musicians - may still not know of it. That's something Chandler wants to change.
“The more local arts we can support will help us connect with the community,” she said. “We want people to come here and not go downtown for awesome music or art. Canton Street has the food and the night life. We just need to provide the art.”
Open mic nights, comedy nights and more local bands are all ideas Chandler said she wants to try out to help expand the local support. A “live lounge,” a VIP area on performance nights, has already been set up for season ticket holders as an added perk for those dedicated to Roswell's arts.
Upcoming shows at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, located at 950 Forrest Street
The Roswell Presents… series:
Dec. 28 Sixpence None the Richer
Feb. 7 Masters of Soul
May 10 Spencer Day
June 7 Second City
Also at the CAC:
Nov. 26 – Jan. 23: “People on Canton” visual art exhibit
Nov. 29 – Dec. 8: Roswell Dance Theatre presents “The Nutcracker”
Dec. 15: Atlanta Wind Symphony presents “On Holiday”
Dec. 13 and 14: Atlanta Dance Theatre presents “Babes in Toyland” and “Nutcracker – Land of Sweets”
Dec. 20 and 21: “Nutcracker Swings!”
In the end, it will be up to the community what they will support - and by supporting the arts in Roswell, the community supports the city's investments in the arts.
“The only way we will be successful is if the community says 'this is what we want' and we give it to them,” she said.