"I had enjoyed a career in education for 15 years, working as a music teacher and elementary school teacher," said Cox, referring to her work experience prior to joining The Grand. "I always loved using music and drama to teach concepts in my classroom. When I approached the halfway mark in my teaching career in 1999, I decided that I was ready for something new. The opportunity to work with the Etowah Foundation and The Grand Theatre opened up and I knew it was just the thing for me."
Opened in 1910 as The Greenwood Theatre, The Grand Theatre started as a performing arts venue and then presented movies from the late 1920s until 1977. After a "Save the Grand" campaign was launched by The Pumphouse Players and The Cartersville Opera Company, The Grand Theatre was purchased by a local resident and underwent two renovations, the latest one being in 2005.
With The Grand celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2010, Cox was delighted to help mark the milestone. In early 2011, the theater presented the video presentation, "100 Years of Memories." In addition to photographs and videos of past performances, the offering also provided a snapshot of The Grand's history through oral interviews conducted with about 40 people, ranging from patrons and performers to theater personnel.
Occupation/title: Grand Theatre Program Director
City of residence: Cartersville
Family: Married to Chip Cox for 30 years. I have a son, Josh, and a daughter, Megan.
Education: I earned my Bachelor of Music Education at Shorter College and my Master in Early Childhood Education at Columbus State University
How has The Grand Theatre's offerings evolved through the years?
A: The Etowah Foundation was managing The Grand Theatre and was looking for someone to develop new educational programs. With my experience in music and in teaching, I began to create programs that used music, drama and movement to teach objectives from the required school curriculum. I worked with the TRC [Teacher Resource Center] and the Bartow History Center to create "extended classroom" programs. I also searched for excellent performers who would give students a concert or drama experience, not only teaching concepts, but appreciation for the arts.
The third component of our educational programming is our theater camp program. We serve students from grades two through 12. The children learn basic theater skills as well as responsibility, self-expression and cooperation. Since 2001, the theater has been under the administration of Matt Santini, who has an uncanny skill at developing our annual Entertainment Series. Each year we offer five events in a variety of genres. We have wonderful sponsors in the community who help us bring a high quality of performances to The Grand.
What was it like to be a part of the organization when The Grand celebrated its 100th anniversary?
A: It was such an honor to be in my position upon the 100th anniversary of the theater. I was able to do research about the theater's history through newspaper articles and interviews with members of the community. We produced a wonderful video to commemorate the event -- full of live interviews. Together with Don Kordecki, we also produced a revue of music from plays and movies that had been shown at the theater throughout the 100 years.
What are your goals for The Grand Theatre in the next five or 10 years? Also, are there any entertainers or type of entertainment that you would like to feature at the theater?
A: We now have a well-established schedule of educational programs and entertainment. My goal is to continue these traditions. We want to keep our programs affordable to our community so that residents of all ages can enjoy live performances and participate in them as well. We also want to expand our audience to include a more diverse patronage. We hope to see our young performers grow up in a community that values the performing arts and feels at home in our theater. We would like to reach a wider area with our programs as well.
What do you enjoy most about working at The Grand Theatre?
A: I love coming to work every day. I love the staff and the many patrons that come in our doors. I feel that everyone who performs here or enjoys a show leaves a little bit of their energy here in the building.
What is your greatest professional and/or personal achievement?
A: It's hard to name just one thing, but one of my favorite experiences was several years ago when I was honored by performing with The Atlanta Pops Orchestra. I sang "Ose Shalom," a Jewish prayer for peace. I loved expressing the beautiful melody and the message of the song to my very special Cartersville audience.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
A: Blessed, peacemaker, musical.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I sing and dance while doing housework.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
A: When Chip and I told my dad that we were getting married, he said, "Marriage is not 50/50. Always be willing to give 90 percent and only expect 10 percent in return." I have realized that if you think your give 90 percent, you're probably not giving nearly that much and if you think he's giving 10 percent, he's actually giving a lot more.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I love to read and knit.
Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?
A: At home or The Grand Theatre.