The Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts, housed in the refurbished Ritz Theater at 139 Doyle Street in downtown Toccoa, is home to the Toccoa-Stephens County Community Theatre and the Currahee Arts Council.
The center was buzzing with restoration activity in late 2012 with the assistance of various grants and additional funding from the City of Toccoa. The Fox Theatre Institute selected the Schafer Center to receive an $11,000 grant in late 2012, assuring the future of this Toccoa landmark. The FTI grant enabled the city to commission a long-term historic preservation plan to complement the theater’s recent interior restoration and restore the façade and original marquee.
Recent improvements include a new lobby, enlarged stage, construction of an orchestra pit, painting, carpeting, new heating/air and remodeled dressing rooms.
The city assumed ownership of the facility in April 2012 and paid for the restoration work with a combination of grant funds, budgeted funds and money from the city’s commission reserve account. The city also received grant money to pay for repairs such as the new heating and air unit from the USDA. The city received a Tourism Product Development grant from the Georgia Department of Economic Development to remove the brick facade and restore the front of the theater to the original 1939 art deco look. In February 2015, a screen and projector system were installed.
On January 28, 2016 The Fox Theatre Institute gave the city a grant for $46,295 to restore the historic marquee on the front of the Schaefer Center. The marquee will be installed in June 2016.
The Ritz Theatre opened in 1939 with 400 seats and entertained thousands of moviegoers of all ages until it went dark in 1985. It has been used by several local groups since that time as a community center and performing arts center, hosting musicals and non-musical productions including "Fiddler on the Roof," "Guys and Dolls," Raisin in the Sun," "Leader of the Pack," and "The Sound of Music" to mention just a few. The Currahee Artists Guild, sponsored arts shows featuring visual artists in the area.