The Classic Center

Downtown Athens, GA

The Classic Center recently launched ELEVATE, a bold and exciting initiative designed to enhance and expand The Classic Center’s music, education, and entertainment programming. 

More than 100 business, education, government, and community leaders were involved in developing this strategic plan through a series of workshops and one-on-one interviews over seven months.

The plan will raise $5.5 million in private funding over the next five years and is focused on elevating music, entertainment, and education through innovative programs at The Classic Center, all of which will benefit Athens-Clarke County and the entire state of Georgia.

View the ELEVATE Campaign Brochure Brochure Opens in new window

Elevate Music


The music pillar of ELEVATE will display the contents of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame to the new Classic Center Arena, establishing an interactive music experience. This will create a destination for Athens-Clarke County residents and attract 400,000 visitors annually from throughout Georgia and surrounding states while also creating 90,000 additional hotel room nights per year within Athens-Clarke County.

Elevate Entertainment

ELEVATE Entertainment

The entertainment pillar of ELEVATE will endow an enrichment fund to bring premier touring acts to Athens. This will increase the Athens-Clarke County economy and generate $30 million in new economic impact within the region annually. This endowment will allow The Classic Center to bring never before seen sporting events, family shows, large concerts, and more to Athens. The new arena will generate 300 event days per year and 125 additional events.

Elevate Education

ELEVATE Education

The education pillar of ELEVATE will further establish a Hospitality Learning Lab within The Classic Center, encompassing the new arena. The Hospitality Learning Lab will provide local students with a one-of-a-kind, hands-on experience in managing music, arts, sports, and entertainment events and help connect them with career opportunities in the hospitality industry with median salary offerings at $36,000 annually with growth opportunities of over $100,000.

What is the ELEVATE initiative?

ELEVATE is a five-year program to expand tourism, enhance workforce development, and attract bigger and better entertainment offerings to Athens-Clarke County.


Who is leading the ELEVATE initiative?

The Classic Center, in cooperation with their corporate and community partners, along with The Classic Center Cultural Foundation, are leading the ELEVATE campaign.


How much funding will this initiative need? 

ELEVATE will raise approximately $5.5 million over the next five years. 


How will the ELEVATE program be funded?

This extraordinary program will be underwritten through a community-wide fundraising campaign. This public-private partnership will invest a minimum of $5.5 million over the next five years, or an average of $1.1 million per year.


How will the ELEVATE initiative benefit the Athens-Clarke County area?

There are six immediate benefits. The ELEVATE program, through The Classic Center, will:


  1. Establish a one-of-a-kind venue to showcase the Georgia Music Hall of Fame collection in the new Classic Center Arena. This educational attraction will draw tourists from around the state and the southeast.
  2. Create a Hospitality Learning Lab on The Classic Center campus. In collaboration with Piedmont University, The Classic Center will provide one-of-a-kind hands-on experience to students seeking a career in music, arts, sports, and entertainment event management.
  3. Create an Entertainment Enrichment Fund to incentivize large touring acts to come to Athens and the new Classic Center Arena.
  4. Establish Athens as the “Southeast’s Center of Excellence for Music, Arts, Education, Sports, and Entertainment,” and entice families and businesses to consider relocating to Athens-Clarke County.
  5. Enhance the economic well-being of Athens-Clarke County by strengthening its position as a visitor and tourist destination, which will increase generated economic impact. 
  6. Improve the quality of life for all who live, work, and play in Athens-Clarke County and the surrounding area.

What will be the economic impact of the ELEVATE initiative in Athens- Clarke County?

ELEVATE, through the new arena, will provide the following: 

  1. Increase hotel room nights by 90,000 annually
  2. Provide $30 million in economic impact for Athens-Clarke County annually
  3. The new Classic Center Arena will attract 80,000 visitors annually
  4. Create over 600 new jobs with the increase of new business
  5. Generate $120 million in new capital investments for the hospitality industry and economic development projects in the region


Who will benefit from the ELEVATE initiative?

Every business and every citizen of Athens-Clarke County and the surrounding region will ultimately benefit from this project. This project will generate increases in tourism spending, enhanced education and workforce development programs, and top-level entertainment and economic development projects, which will create new jobs, expand payrolls, and create new tax revenue opportunities.   


 How much should we pledge?

Each pledge request for the ELEVATE initiative has been carefully considered and evaluated. A campaign volunteer will contact you to arrange an appointment to present the project, answer any questions you may have, and discuss your five-year investment in this important program.


How was the amount of my pledge request determined?

A select committee of corporate and community leaders representing all sectors of the greater Athens-Clarke County area carefully determined each pledge request in the ELEVATE campaign. This Campaign Evaluation Committee considered the financial capacity of each corporate and individual prospect as well as their leadership role in our community before suggesting a target pledge request.


Is our investment in ELEVATE tax deductible?

Yes, pledges to the ELEVATE campaign are 100% tax deductible. Pledges will be made to The Classic Center Cultural Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. You should contact your tax professional for specific information and consultation.


How will we be kept informed of the progress and achievements of the ELEVATE initiative?

The general public will be kept informed through The Classic Center website and media releases. All ELEVATE stakeholders, supporters, and volunteers will receive updates of more detailed progress through regular reports over the next five years.


Will we receive recognition of our investment in ELEVATE?

Yes. A permanent display will be erected at The Classic Center to honor and thank those who support this extraordinary project.


Will there be naming rights and sponsorship opportunities in the ELEVATE initiative?

Yes. There will be naming rights and sponsorship opportunities available. Please reach out to Foundation@ClassicCenter.com to learn more about these opportunities.

Request more information about the ELEVATE campaign or contact Beth Bryant at 706.357.4521 or Beth@ClassicCenter.com.

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