Our Stories

The Production of all Productions

Aurora Theatre’s story began in a converted hardware store in Downtown Duluth – written by two people with a tireless passion for theatre and a insatiable desire to impact their community. Today, 22 years later, life partners Anthony Rodriguez and Ann-Carol Pence have led Aurora Theatre to become the fastest-growing theatre in Georgia. Under their leadership, Aurora has won numerous awards, from both the business and artistic community; and they have outgrown their current space in downtown Lawrenceville, a 100-year old renovated church.

Over 80,000 visitors attend over 800 events each year at Aurora, and even more arts lovers would visit if space allowed. Recognizing the need for a campus expansion, Aurora, in conjunction with the city of Lawrenceville, is building a new $26 million arts complex. The project will expand Aurora’s footprint to include the entire block.

“Our goal is to build a 500-seat theatre, complete with orchestra pit and fly loft – everything you would anticipate from a successful regional theatre,” Co-Founder and Producing Artistic Director Anthony Rodriguez explained. “This will allow us to artistically realize our blockbuster musicals with Broadway grandeur.”

“We want to continue to surprise audiences who steadfastly support the work we do,” added Ann-Carol Pence, co-founder and associate producer. “This new theatre will give us the ability to expand our children’s programming for the school system, develop new work, increase classroom space, add a rehearsal space, and provide adequate support facilities for our artists and patrons. We made a lifelong commitment to Gwinnett. We live here, and we are grateful for the opportunity to lead a successful small business here.”

To help fund the expansion, Aurora is launching a capital campaign. As they strategized with their board, they discussed the need for a place to hold the incoming capital campaign funds and to build a healthy endowment.

“We are very familiar with the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia. Many of our donors are fundholders,” Anthony said. “Our board felt the Community Foundation would be the best place to invest our funds while we are raising money.”

Just before Christmas 2017, Aurora became the Community Foundation’s newest nonprofit fundholder.

“Our plan is to not only use the fund for the capital campaign but to also include a strategic focus that would increase our donor advised fund. We want to use our fund to provide scholarships for students who could otherwise not afford camps or classes. We need fund development for new work, for educational theatre, for bilingual programming and for community outreach. We feel the Community Foundation is a great place to keep and raise funds for a variety of projects and initiatives,” Anthony said.

“The Community Foundation provides the perfect giving portal for donors who care about the work that is being done by the non-profit partners in this community. Randy Redner and his team have cultivated a great organization that allows non-profits to connect with donors. It allows us to be more easily discoverable by potential funders who engage with our organization. Our patrons already include some significant fund holders at the Community Foundation, without whose support in our earliest days we would not have grown to the extent that we have.”

To learn more about the Aurora Theatre or give to the capital campaign, visit www.auroratheatre.com.

Want to learn more about becoming a nonprofit fundholder at the Community Foundation? Contact Randy Redner at rredner@cfneg.org or 770-813-3384.