The Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning at the Hayden Liberty Center Association for the Arts, 111 W. Fifth.

The reason for the ceremony and open house was two-fold – the Liberty Center recently joined the Chamber as a member, and the Center is also currently celebrating 100 years as a performing arts mecca in downtown Sedalia.

Executive Director Diane Burnett revealed an exciting new project on Friday, which is the construction of an outdoor stage on the back lot of the center (southwest corner) that will allow for live and socially-distanced performances in the age of COVID. “We're very excited about that,” Burnett said.

Fine details on the outdoor stage are yet to be decided, such as if the alleyway behind the Liberty Center would be closed, or if the stage would be built on to the existing structure.

Joe Fischer, LCAA board president, noted that the Liberty Center owns the lot behind the facility, and the board will help decide the final look of the stage, which will be able to accommodate play productions, live bands and other performances.

Burnett told those gathered for the occasion about the new Cooney Creative Studio, made possible by a generous monetary donation from the Cooney Family Foundation. The Studio will be located upstairs on the Fifth Street side of the building, and is intended to be a multi-use art space for art exhibitions, receptions, poetry readings, art classes and workshops.

Burnett, who has served as executive director for two years, offered a sneak peak at the space, currently being remodeled. The bar once occupying a large portion of the area has been removed, allowing for even more exhibition space.

Downstairs of course are three art galleries. The first two displayed memorabilia from the Liberty Center's rich history of community theatre, and will come down at the end of February after a two-month time period.

A new display will be curated at the start of March, Burnett noted, which involves the Sedalia Visual Art Association.

The third gallery houses personal artwork owned by the Hayden family.

Next up for the Liberty Center is a production called “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind.”

The unusual production involves multiple directors and vignettes chosen especially for the era of COVID and small audiences, Burnett explained. According to her, it also involves 30 plays in 60 minutes. “I'm anxious to see that happen,” Burnett admitted.

“Too Much Light” will be presented at the end of April and first of May. The box office will be open Tuesday through Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m., and other times by appointment.

Tickets may also be purchased online at www.libertycentersedalia.com.