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C & E: In the 1980s

1982: The $2 million Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center opened at Palm Beach Community College in Belle Glade. Its namesake, Frances Lucille “Dolly” Rutledge Hand, was instrumental in bringing both the college and the performing arts to the western communities.

1983: The first SunFest, ten days long, lost $120,000. Today, the five-day festival along Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach, is one of Florida’s largest music, art, and waterfront festivals.

1983: Paul McRae, principal trumpet with the Ft. Lauderdale Symphony, formed the Boca Raton Symphony Orchestra, a chamber orchestra that included Ft. Lauderdale Symphony musicians. In 1987 the two orchestras merged into the Philharmonic Orchestra of Florida, renamed the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra.

1985: Actor-director Louis Tyrrell founded the Learning Stage to produce contemporary works by established and emerging playwrights. In 1987, as the Theatre Club of the Palm Beaches, the group began performing at the Duncan Theater Second Stage on Palm Beach Community College’s Lake Worth campus.

1985: Marie Stoner Hale’s semi-professional Ballet Arts studio became the Academy of Ballet Florida. In 1986 Hale established Ballet Florida, the first professional dance company in Palm Beach County.

1986: Dancer-choreographer Demetrius Klein and his wife, Kathleen, opened Demetrius Klein Dance Studios in Lake Worth and founded the Demetrius Klein Dance Company the following year.

1986: The 720-seat Watson B. Duncan III Theatre opened on the Lake Worth campus of Palm Beach Community College, named for a former professor.

1987: After the Norton School of Art closed, Robert and Mary Montgomery gave $100,000 to open a not-for-profit visual arts education and exhibition center. The Armory Art Center opened in the county-owned, former National Guard Armory building in West Palm Beach, designed by William Manley King in 1939. The center was named for Robert and Mary Montgomery from 1987 until 2002, when its beneficiaries donated one million dollars, and their name was transferred from the organization to the historic building.

1988: The Loxahatchee River Historical Museum opened in Jupiter.

1989: The Burt Reynolds Theatre, a dinner theatre in Jupiter since 1979, closed; it reopened as the Jupiter Theatre.

1989: The Boca Raton Symphonic Pops, with a budget of almost $2 million, was renamed the Florida Symphonic Pops of Boca Raton.

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