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Why this Forsyth County performing arts company is expanding to Buford
Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts 2 061419 web
Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts campers pose for a picture. The company that provides educational theater classes is looking to add a new location in downtown Buford. (Photo courtesy Leigh Ann Cannady)

On Tuesday afternoon, the Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts was empty, but only because it was forced to be.

It was an action-packed day for the performing arts company. They had had several camps and held rehearsals for an upcoming community musical, but FAPA’s humble facility in a small industrial park off Tolbert Street in Cumming isn’t big enough to do both at the same time.

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“We’re just busting at the seams here,” FAPA founder and artistic director Leigh Ann Cannady said.

That might change soon.

Cannady announced on Monday plans for FAPA to take over a former church in downtown Buford. FAPA is under contract for the building, Cannady said.

The 10,000-square-foot facility on Powers Avenue, formerly home to Word of Faith Church, would meet FAPA’s needs for more classroom, rehearsal and performance space, Cannady said.

The sanctuary would be converted into a performance venue with comfortable seating. Surrounding rooms would be used for FAPA classes and rehearsals. There’s also more parking, restrooms and better climate control than FAPA’s current facility that it’s occupied since opening in 2013 to provide educational classes in the performing arts and host theater productions in the community.

“It’s what our kids deserve,” Cannady said. “They’ve done amazing things with a metal warehouse building. If they had what they deserve, it just takes what we can offer them to the next level.”

As FAPA grew from about 35 students in 2013 to almost 400-450 a week, its current 6,000-square-foot facility quickly became cramped, Cannady said.

Cannady had been exploring options for a new facility for about four years, she said. She searched for existing buildings for sale. She explored building a facility from scratch.

Cannady searched online a couple weeks ago and saw the church listed for sale.

“I was like, ‘We’ve got to jump on this,’” Cannady said.

Cannady immediately saw the facility’s potential to meet several of FAPA’s needs. It had all the requisite space and amenities. It would allow FAPA to expand into an area where many of its students live. It also would allow FAPA to move its major performances out of its current facility and reorganize it to make more space for camps and classes.

“It’s going to be the right fit and right balance,” Cannady said.

Cannady said FAPA has 60 days to raise $75,000 to secure the loan for the building, so she started a fundraising campaign called #FriendsofFAPA, which includes a GoFundMe account, as well as a T-shirt sale campaign.

“Really, we’re just counting on the generosity of the community, saying, ‘This is for the kids,’” Cannady said. “They’re flourishing here, so let’s give them the next best thing.”