Thanks to an extraordinary donation from the Avalon Theatre Company, Grand Center Arts Academy has transformed its sixth floor theater classroom into a professional performance and teaching space for its students. Avalon, a highly regarded professional equity theatre company, donated most of its stock, including audience risers, theater seats, flooring, walls, props, costumes, a piano, lights, drapes, etc. Outfitting GCAA with professional-grade materials also paves the way for future artistic collaborations. Avalon co-founders and artistic directors, Erin Kelley and Larry Mabrey, made this generous gift last spring when they vacated space in Crestwood Court as ArtSpace redeveloped the area. GCAA theater teachers, Eric Conners and Emily Kohring, were thrilled to see their space taking shape. “We couldn’t wait to see the faces of our students as they walked in here,” said Ms. Kohring. "I am truly blown away by the generosity Avalon has shown GCAA,” she added. “I predict it would have taken us nearly a decade to accumulate all the props, scenery, costumes, platforms, furniture and other items they have so generously gifted us. Our students are going to benefit for years to come, both in theater classes and future productions." Throughout its seven seasons, Avalon Theatre Company earned a reputation as one of St. Louis' most respected professional theatre companies with high artistic quality. Through Avalon’s donation, Mabrey and Kelley bring their years of professional theatrical experience and resources to enhance GCAA's theatrical learning and performing environment, demonstrating the company’s commitment to developing future theatrical artists. “The serendipitous and timely nature of this gift for both parties is a beautiful thing,” said Dan Rubright, Director of Arts and Community Partnerships at GCAA. “This gives Larry and Erin, both highly talented actors, the space to determine how they want to move forward professionally, and I look forward to possible ways in which we might collaborate that would be beneficial to them and our theater department.” “During the year, we will continue our efforts to turn our theater into a fully converted black box. We’re heading there quickly, thanks to Avalon,” said Rubright. “It all really comes down to enhancing our students’ experience. That’s what this is all about.” “We have been fortunate to see a great deal of support from the community in our first two years,” said Lynne Glickert, the school’s principal. “Making this connection with Avalon is a perfect example of what makes our school tick and what helps differentiate us as an arts school.” Sponsored by Saint Louis University, GCAA is a St. Louis public charter middle and soon-to-be high school located in the heart of St. Louis' vibrant cultural district, Grand Center, directly across from Powell Hall and the Grandel Theatre. The mission of GCAA is to serve students with a meaningful, well-rounded educational experience that includes a strong emphasis on the visual and performing arts and a deep commitment to academic excellence. GCAA strongly believes in community engagement, multi-cultural understanding, service and good citizenship. Students who are highly creative and already pursuing their artistic dreams will find a home at GCAA.