Local arts community rebuilding

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BAY COUNTY. Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - "Our front of our lobby was completely caved in," Kaleidoscope Theater President Hillary McAlinden said.

The local arts community is regaining its strength and creativity after Hurricane Michael. (WJHG/WECP)

Like many Lynn Haven buildings, the Kaleidoscope Theater sustained extensive damage from Hurricane Michael.

"What's behind me is dirt that used to be our secondary facility," said McAlinden, gesturing to where part of the theatre once stood.

While this is just one local arts venue out of commission, it's left some in the community a bit uneasy.

"For me personally, I feel a little lost," said McAlinden.

But the community is working to regain its strength.

"I think the community is coming together because there are a lot fewer places to spread out to as far as arts venues go," said Jennifer Jones, the Executive Director for the Bay Arts Alliance.

"I think galleries are starting to reopen, I mean, you know, after the storm all the galleries Downtown were closed for a while and some are coming back and some are saying they'll be back even next year," said Director of the Panama City Center for the Arts Jason Kretzer.

However, with fewer places to go, new events are still coming to town.

"There's so much to see and there's probably more to do than you can get to every weekend," said Jones.

For now, many productions are using Mosley High School, Gulf Coast State College, and pretty much any place with a stage to showcase their work.

But soon some other local venues will open their doors once again.

"Here [pointing at dirt] will be the secondary building right ahead of us, and here sort of in the middle where the first set of bushes ended will be the glass lobby extension and then where that piece of brick is, that'll be the semi-enclosed courtyard," said McAlinden.

The Kaleidoscope Theater is getting ready to start construction and rebuild and officials say it should be done sometime between January and March 2020.

Although McAlindon says they don't intend to just have a new building, but rather harness even more of the community's creativity, "My hope for the future is that more people see what we're doing and get involved."

To find out about events happening in the area, click here.

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