AJ SWOPE PERFORMANCE PLAZA TO BE DEDICATED SEPT. 15
Public Invited to Grand Opening Celebration Featuring Free Zac Wilkerson Concert
AMARILLO, TX – Sept. 8, 2023 - A musical tribute to the late musician and business leader AJ Swope will christen the stage at the new AJ Swope Performance Plaza at Arts in the Sunset on Friday, Sept. 15.
The recently finished outdoor performance venue is located on Plains Boulevard near Western Street and has been constructed by Arts in the Sunset in partnership with the nonprofit Friends of AJ Swope within the framework of the historic Sunset Center shopping mall – the newest addition to Amarillo’s thriving Cultural District.
A 5 p.m. private reception for project supporters will be followed by a 7 p.m. public performance by Texas musician Zac Wilkerson, critically acclaimed singer-songwriter formerly of Amarillo known for his powerful, soulful vocals and a driving guitar style. Wilkerson, whose musical career was gaining momentum at the same time Swope was gaining a loyal fan base across the region, was a close friend of Swope’s and is providing the show free of charge in honor of his friend.
Swope was also known around the region for his work in television news and as the executive director Class 4 Winds & Renewables, a nonprofit that promoted the area’s budding wind energy industry. Craig Vaughn, a member of the Friends of AJ Swope board of directors, pointed out that there have been other tributes to Swope since his passing in 2013, including the naming of an electric substation in Swope’s memory, but a musical venue is an ideal way to celebrate Swope’s love of music and Amarillo’s music community where he is fondly remembered as an encourager and tireless supporter.
“AJ was always open to talking to and helping out the next artist trying to make a name for himself,” Vaughn said. “Having a stage on which Amarillo's up-and-coming artists can hone their craft in front of a live audience is a very important piece of their careers. AJ truly cared about Amarillo's local and live music scene and this stage will guarantee that his passion for it will live on.”
The plaza features a large stage with an attached green room, three dressing rooms, restrooms, a large area for tables, chairs and a dance floor, a ticket booth for paid events, and a built-in bar for third-party vendors to utilize. Aside from concerts, the venue will be the perfect backdrop for weddings, fundraisers and other outdoor events that will enhance the mission of Arts in the Sunset.
“The Arts in the Sunset staff and board are humbled and honored to be able to memorialize AJ Swope in this way,” said Rachel Flores, executive director of Arts in the Sunset. “Having a performance plaza of this caliber allows us to broaden the scope of our programming to include the performing arts, which further supports the arts community as a whole in Amarillo. AJ was a man with extraordinary talents and a fierce love for his community, and we hope that by bearing his name, this Plaza too will come to know and share the extraordinary.”
Friends of AJ Swope, which will continue contributing to the ongoing success of the AJ Swope Performance Plaza, is now engaged in fundraising efforts to construct the Texas Panhandle First Responders Memorial in downtown Amarillo. More information and a secure payment portal for public donations can be found at friendsofajswope.org.
Arts in the Sunset is owned and supported by the Crouch Foundation, founded by the late Ann Crouch. The complex encompasses the Amarillo Art Institute and about 20 artist studios, a community gallery and a variety of event spaces, including the AJ Swope Performance Plaza, that are available for public rentals. More information can be found at artsinthesunset.org.