Coast Community Concert, as we know it today, was established in 1948 by Biloxi arts activists Emmett Thomas, an insurance executive, and his wife, Catherine, for the sole purpose of bringing entertainment comparable to artists available in cities like New York, Dallas, Chicago and San Francisco.

The non-profit arts group formed with three charter members: Frances Hunt, a Biloxi music teacher, and the Thomases to become Biloxi Community Concert Association.

In the early years, concert programs were predominately classical. Coast patrons were offered star-studded artists with Metropolitan Opera artists, Arthur Fiedler, conductor of the Boston Pops, Guy Lombardo, the Dallas Symphony, the popular Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians and well-known classical guitarists and pianists (Peter Nero).

To show their newfound appreciation, the community rallied and attended concerts in formal attire, making the then Biloxi High School auditorium on East Howard a distinguished destination four times a year.

The Community Concert movement, under Columbia Artists Management in New York City, was borne in 1928 based on a simple, yet novel plan of operation: 1) create an advance audience with season ticket memberships and 2) establish a budget derived from membership drive funds, thus eliminating fund-raising for the all-volunteer board.

The plan, based on a season ticket membership for a four-concert season, was and remains a local success.

Those who serve with Community Concert are faithful and dedicated and most have specific duties. Each volunteer is required to sell at least 15 memberships during the month-long, annual spring membership drive. The inner circle is also responsible for selecting a cross-section of performing artists to accommodate the myriad tastes of its large membership roster a year in advance.

Most concert archives were lost during the 1969 Hurricane Camille at the Biloxi beachfront home of organizer Hunt. Shortly thereafter, concerts were moved to the new Biloxi High School on Father Ryan and continued when the school was renamed Michel Middle School.

In a joint decision in the 1970s, Biloxi and Gulfport Community Concerts joined forces for a history-making union that resulted in the organization being renamed Coast Community Concert Association, a sustaining merger to date.

After 75 years, the Columbia Arts New York headquarters closed its doors in 2002 and Community Concert was faced with the decision to close or continue. The Executive Committee and board chose the latter and joined forces with Live on Stage in Nashville.

At this time, the Saenger Theatre for the Performing Arts in Biloxi became its new and current home.

Community Concert ....

... where the good times are!


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