Ocean City took a major step forward in the arts and entertainment sector at the tail end of 2014, as the latest addition to the Roland E. Powell Convention Center – the Performing Arts Center – officially opened its doors. We attended the inaugural event, and we were immediately impressed with the grandeur of the space, which is set to host a wide variety of performances, including theater productions, music performances, guest speakers, and more. Since the inaugural event, the Performing Arts Center has hosted a few debut events, including the holiday performance by the Texas Tenors and the Mayor’s Open House on New Year’s Day, but the Grand Opening will take place this weekend.

The Grand Opening Celebration of the Performing Arts Center is scheduled for this Saturday, January 17, from 6:30pm until 10pm (doors open at 6:15). The celebration features a performance by the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Julien Benichou and featuring Israel Lozano. Also performing is Ocean City Elementary School’s OC Stars. In addition to the performance, guests will enjoy hors d’oeuvres. A cash bar is available and black tie is optional. Ticket prices range from $25 to $45 and are on sale through Ticket Master or at the Convention Center box office.

“This event marks a monumental moment in our community’s history,” said Mayor Rick Meehan. “The Performing Arts Center is a focal point for entertainment in Ocean City. It represents a lot of hard work, a strong partnership between Ocean City and the State of Maryland, big dreams and a very bright future for our community. It is a beautiful venue and I am confident that citizens will walk away with a very different experience, a more personal experience, than they will at many other venues in our surrounding area.”

“What an economic engine it’s going to be,” said Worcester County Economic Development Deputy Director Merry Mears, adding that the Performing Arts Center would boost off-season activity for the town by attracting visitors to the area to see shows and performances. “Everybody involved came together to make this happen, it’s a testament to everybody’s teamwork,” she added. Convention Center Director Larry Noccolino agreed that the Performing Arts Center was a welcome addition to the growing arts scene in Ocean City. “With the impact the Art League has already made…this really enhances that.”

The 1,200 seat auditorium and performing arts stage features state-of-the-art equipment, two tiers of fixed seating, dressing rooms, concession area and box office. We were lucky enough to grab some photos before the space was open to the public, take a look:

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