Coffee County Arts Alliance History

The Coffee County Arts Alliance has been bringing performing and visual arts to the Wiregrass for more than 40 years.

On August 22, 1974, Mr. Tom Boozer, of the State Council On the Arts met in Enterprise, Alabama, with 22 Coffee County arts enthusiasts, after a letter had been written by Jewel Ellen Smith on behalf of the Enterprise Branch of the American Association of University Women asking for guidance in forming an Arts Council in the Wiregrass.

That night the Coffee County Arts Alliance came into existence. Musicians, educators, civic leaders, writers, bankers, and patrons of the arts made up the first board. The purpose of the Coffee County Arts Alliance today is the same as years ago – to bring visual and performing arts into the community for the enjoyment of all people, to challenge and encourage children and adults to develop artistic talents and creativity and to advance the arts by working with the leadership of clubs, civic groups, schools, businesses, and individuals in the county.

The first season opened on February 5, 1975 with the pianist, Leonidas Lipovetsky. Mr. Lipovetsky performed fourteen performances of music and the arts in schools in three days. Later that month, Robert Minford did a one man dramatic portrait of Edgar Allen Poe in “Journey to Eldorado.” In April, the first Coffee County Arts Festival was held at the Paul L. Sawyer National Guard Armory in New Brockton.

Over the years, CCAA has presented a variety of performers and performances. Montgomery Civic Ballet, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Ink Spots, The Kingston Trio, Anna Maria Albergetti, Al Hirt, The Alabama Symphony, Birmingham Children’s Theatre, David Holt, Chattanooga Boys Choir, “They’re Playing Our Song” (play), Dancing On Common Ground, B. J. Thomas and Billy Joe Royal, “Damn Yankees” (play),  The Hungarian Symphony Orchestra, The Alabama Blues Project, Hotlanta, Daniel Heifetz, Atlanta Pops, American Spiritual Ensemble, Boomers, Dallas Brass, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, The Association, Mancini Magic, Sha Na Na, The Lettermen, Herman’s Hermit starring Peter Noone, and “Fiddler on the Roof” (play) are some of the excellent shows brought to Coffee County.

School performances are an integral part of each season. Both elementary and higher grade students attend school performances to broaden their knowledge of the performing arts. Often, performers work with students one-on-one or in small groups to provide instruction in the performer’s field of interest. The Birmingham Children’s Theatre has performed for elementary students in local schools for many years.

Currently, the CCAA season consists of four theatrical performances and the Piney Woods Arts Festival. “Piney Woods” is on the grounds of Enterprise State Community College in Enterprise the first weekend in April. The festival is one of the oldest juried arts and crafts shows in the area and features original art and crafts, a children’s fun center, food and entertainment.

The Coffee County Arts Alliance thanks its corporate sponsors, members, those who attend and The Alabama State Council on the Arts for making these great performances possible.

For more information about the Coffee County Arts Alliance call 334-406-ARTS (2787).

(Edited/updated by Ginny & Charlie Canon, 393-2797)