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Davis Performing Arts Center: A Best Kept Secret

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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Tucked away on a quiet strip of Franklin Avenue, the Davis Performing Arts Center may be one of the most well hidden arts venues in the City of Columbus. This quiet tree-lined street sits behind the Topiary Park and offers an almost strangely serene environment for an arts venue that is located within Downtown.

The Center itself is home to two theatre spaces: a 175-seat black box theatre and a 350-seat proscenium arch theatre. These spaces are home to a variety of shows and special events as well as summer classes for children ages 4 through 18.

The Davis was in danger of being closed permanently last year when city budget cuts removed the building’s maintenance from the City’s Recreation and Parks Department. There was quite a bit of outcry here on Columbus Underground, as many locals have grown up with the youth-oriented programming that the venue has provided.

The venue was saved in April as the Phoenix Theatre for Children stepped up to take on a managerial role with the venue along with the assistance of the Columbus Association of Performing Arts (CAPA). Phoenix not only uses the space for their own performances, but also assists in booking the venue with other local theatre and arts groups.

We’re trying to serve the community in new ways by allowing the Performing Arts Center space to be available for rental for many other smaller theater and arts organizations that don’t really have a home yet,” said Joe Bishara, Production Coordinator for Phoenix. “On the Verge Productions, Available Light Theatre, The Senior Repertory of Ohio, Six String Concerts, and Thurber House have all used the space recently.”

More information can be found about The Davis Performing Arts Center at www.davisprograms.com.

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  • If anyone here on CU hasn’t been to The Davis yet and is looking for a good reason to check out this venue, I should add that Available Light will be performing “Attempts on Her Life” here from May 13-22.

    Details here: http://avltheatre.com/index.php/site/attempts/

  • Cool, thanks Walker.  Been trying to make it here, now I’ll try even harder!  :)

  • Thanks for posting Walker.

    I grew up doing theater at Davis, and it’s really a big part of who I am today.

    Props to Joe and everybody at Phoenix for keeping the doors open.

  • Officially, I’m pretty sure they’ve dropped the “Davis” from the building’s name. It’s just the “Columbus Performing Arts Center” now.

    But unofficially, everybody still calls it “the Davis.”

  • Yeah, it’s not on the building itself, but it’s still all over their website:


  • Yeah, I’ve commented on the very thing many times on the Six Strings Concerts threads. Really my favorite venue in Cbus for shows.  Wish they had a liquor license though.  For the Six String shows, even a wine permit would suffice.

  • Davis program reborn — sort of — with ‘Honk! Jr.’ production
    Published: Monday, April 26, 2010

    It’s been nearly two years since city budget cuts forced shows produced by the Davis Performing Arts Program to fade to black.

    The Davis was hitting the homestretch of its 2008 session when city budget cuts slashed its funding and closed the door to rare stage opportunities for hundreds of children taking the classes and appearing in the five or six stage productions the Davis offered each year.


  • hugh59

    It will always be “Players Theater” to me.  That was its name back in the late 70s and early 80s when I used to go there.  I shot a student film project down in their basement in 1981.  I love that place!

  • My daughter is in Honk Jr playing May 14-17…she’s a froglet/chicken.  We love the Davis and will continue to support programs there as long as the city will keep it open.

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