Alex Hargis and the New Coppell Arts Center

Story by Mary Martin. Photos by Josie Gamett.

Filled with light and possibilities, the newest North Texas performing arts space is due to open its doors for the first time on May 14 in downtown Coppell. At the helm of the nearly finished Coppell Arts Center is Alex Hargis, who brings a passion for local artists, along with the belief that this suburban square is worthy of your weekend plans.

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Alex joined the Coppell Arts Center team as Managing Director in January 2019. He jumped into the design process, overseeing the final layout for the 32,250 square-foot building and working directly with the architecture and construction teams. As the building nears completion, Alex is shifting his focus toward the programming and entertainment that will fill each space.

As a student at Flower Mound High School, Alex participated in the theater department, performing on stage as well as learning the craft of lighting design and front-of-house skills. Sensing he had found a career path, Alex continued as a performance major into college, eventually graduating from University of Texas at Dallas with a degree in Visual and Performing Arts. “In that program I was able to do a little bit of everything, including a science fiction literature class,” shared Alex. It is that little bit of everything that has paid off in a job that requires a jack-of-all-trades type of knowledge—managing a theater and serving the community that will fill its stage and seats.

During college Alex worked for Plano’s Courtyard Theater, lending a hand with production labor and learning both the literal and figurative ropes. After graduation, he took a job as a graphic designer for a large church in Southlake before returning to the theater, recruited to manage the brand new Wyly theater at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in downtown Dallas. “There is not another building anywhere like the Wyly,” said Alex, remembering late nights during opening week spent learning and fixing the custom mechanics that transform the Wyly’s seats and stage. Alex spent more than six years with the AT&T Performing Arts Center, and then transitioned to a new role—Executive Director of the Historic Downtown Plano Association. His experience working closely with community groups, city officials, and small business owners is reflected in his newest work at the Coppell Arts Center.

“The Coppell Arts Center is about bringing people together,” said Alex. “Everything is designed around the human element.” Flexible spaces like a black-box theater which seats 196 for intimate performances, a studio classroom for music and painting lessons, and a multi-purpose area all surround a 440-seat main theater. National touring performances, along with local groups like the Coppell Community Chorale , Theatre Coppell, Coppell Community Orchestra, and Ballet Ensemble of Texas are already slated to bring programs to the stages. On Thursday nights, the multi-purpose space will transform into The Hangar Club, giving grown-ups a weeknight hangout with stand-up, dueling pianos, and improv shows. On Sunday it will serve as a teen hang-out with gaming and karaoke. The main Arts Center lobby, named the Mr. Cooper Gallery Lobby, will feature national touring exhibits and Coppell Creatives will curate the space as a gallery for local visual artists. An outdoor stage and plaza called The Grove is the perfect spot for community dance performances and private events.

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Coppell’s mayor, Karen Hunt, said, “This building is a result of dedicated Coppell citizens who are continuously looking toward the arts.” That future vision has brought the Coppell Arts Center from a tiny theater housed in a fire station to a modern theater that will serve as the anchor for Coppell’s expanding downtown square. As Coppell grows, Alex can see how this theater will serve as a place for everyone to gather and share their culture. “I can picture how the grove of trees out front will connect to the green space at the farmers market, and how the Arts Center will be used for everything from weddings to barbecue tastings,” shared Alex.

The opening weekend line-up for the Coppell Arts Center speaks to that diversity of programming, starting on Thursday, May 14 with the Architects of Air exhibition. On May 15, Broadway star, Kristin Chenoweth will grace the stage with her For the Girls tour, followed by a concert featuring country music artist, Rodney Atkins on Saturday evening. An all-day community showcase will wrap up the festivities on Sunday, allowing local performers to share their talent on the new stage. “What we are really building is a community garden for the arts,” said Alex. “The Arts Center is here to honor local artists, raise the quality of life, bring top quality entertainment to our area, and act as an economic catalyst for the city.” As Alex introduces the Coppell Arts Center to North Texas, there are big hopes that residents will see the beauty of the local arts and the value of an entertainment district a little closer to home.

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