Reilly Arts Center breaks ground on expansion


Dignitaries throw shovels full of dirt during the Reilly Arts Center Expansion Groundbreaking Ceremony at the Reilly Art Center in Ocala, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2020.

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Posted October 23, 2020 | Ocala Gazette | Photography by Bruce Ackerman, rendering courtesy of Reilly Arts Center

The Reilly Arts Center broke ground Wednesday on a $4 million expansion of their downtown performing arts facility that will give the center the ability to hold an array of smaller events and educational workshops.

About three dozen people turned out for the groundbreaking behind the Arts Center next to Tuscawilla Park.

Arts Center board President R.J. Jenkins, noting that the groundbreaking comes amid the coronarvirus pandemic and a general sluggishness in event attendance, said the timing might seem “counterintuitive” to some but suggested that the timing is “perfect.”

“I think we are hungry for good things,” Jenkins said. “I think we believe in the power of this community. I think we believe in the power of the arts to transform lives.”

The 15,590-square-foot expansion will feature a new, more intimate Black Box Theatre that can accommodate a jazz or stand-up comedy club, theatre in the round, special dance and multimedia events, and standing-room pop and rock concerts. The Reilly’s new Black Box will also be capable of hosting banquets, receptions, special speakers and presenters, and community events in seated or standing capacities and the facility includes an expanded catering kitchen to accommodate such events.

There will also be an expanded lobby that will accommodate more guests and provide more than twice the additional restrooms and concession areas – a common request from patrons over the past five years.