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Performing arts company’s plans to expand halted
Leigh Ann Cannady
Leigh Ann Cannady, Founder and artistic director of Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts - photo by Brian Paglia

Leigh Ann Cannady had hoped a former church in downtown Buford was the perfect place to expand Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts (FAPA) from its current location in a Cumming industrial park. The 10,000-square-foot building appeared ideally-suited to meet FAPA’s need for more classroom, rehearsal and performance space.

The plan hinged on FAPA raising $75,000 in 60 days to secure the loan for the new building. But Cannady, the company’s artistic director and founder, announced in an email to FAPA supporters Monday that they didn’t secure the necessary funding.

“Time has run out,” Cannady wrote in the email. “Finding funding for a small business isn’t easy and while we worked with several different banks and an army of other really smart, very experienced people, there was no way to get to a point that allowed us to secure the financing.”

Cannady had found the former home of Word of Faith Church on Powers Avenue in Buford listed for sale online. FAPA quickly entered into a contract for the building, and Cannady organized a fundraising campaign that included a GoFundMe account and T-shirt sale.

Cannady said all the donors to the GoFundMe will receive full refunds. Proceeds from the T-shirt sale will go to the company’s scholarship fund.

“Many of you generously donated and we are so grateful for your kindness and your confidence in what we’re trying to create for families in our communities,” Cannady wrote in the email.

It’s the second setback for FAPA, which previously approached the city of Cumming about taking over management of the former-Cumming Playhouse. The city eventually voted to give management to Brian and Kelly Tam, owners of Tam’s BackStage restaurant, in June of 2018.

But Cannady struck a hopeful tone in the email to supporters and reaffirmed that FAPA “will continue doing what we’ve always done” since it opened in 2013 to provide educational classes in the performing arts and host theater productions in the community.

Cannady added, “I believe that we may look back in a year and find ourselves very thankful this didn’t work out because something even better came along.”