Francis Marion University’s Performing Arts Center ranked among nation’s best


The design and beauty of Francis Marion University’s Performing Arts Center has wowed citizens in South Carolina and the Pee Dee since it opened.

Now it’s grabbing some new attention nationwide.

The PAC is listed in a prestigious new ranking of “America’s 25 Most Amazing Campus Arts Centers.” FMU joins performance halls like the Debartolo Center at the University of Notre Dame, Setnor Auditorium at Syracuse and Goodhart Hall at Bryn Mawr on the list. All were were judged to have uniquely appealing performance spaces and innovative designs in the ranking created by College Degree Search, a Columbus, Ohio-based educational resource for prospective college students.

Mackenzi Flannery, development coordinator at CDS and the director of the arts center-ranking project, says CDS elected to rank collegiate arts centers because of the impact a great center can have on a student’s educational experience. Architectural appeal of the performance space was the largest weighted factor in the ranking. Exterior appeal and innovative design features were also considered.

FMU President Dr. Fred Carter says the inclusion of the Performing Arts Center in the ranking is gratifying, if not necessarily surprising.

“The design and appearance of the Performing Arts Center has played to rave reviews ever since it opened,” says Carter. “It’s clearly one of the most distinctive buildings in the region and the state. The PAC received two national awards the year it opened. It’s not surprising that the facility continues to attract attention for its marvelous design.”

Architect Malcolm Holzman, FAIA, a partner with Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture of New York, designed the Performing Arts Center. The 61,000-square foot center in downtown Florence is operated by Francis Marion University and is home to an 850-seat theatre, a smaller experimental theatre, classroom and office space for FMU’s Music Industry programs.

Since its opening in September  2011, the PAC has hosted a variety of top drawer artists, including Roberta Flack, Lyle Lovett, Travis Tritt, Ricky Skaggs, The Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter. The PAC is home to the Florence Symphony Orchestra, the Masterworks Choir and the South Carolina Dance Theatre, as well FMU’s own symphony orchestra, concert band, Music Industry ensemble and concert choir.