First Look: Gonzales’ new home for performing arts and special events, the PACE Center, opens today

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Domain Architecture.

The much-anticipated Price LeBlanc PACE Center opens today in Gonzales, a project that has been discussed in the community for almost a decade. The 25,000-square-foot performing arts center fulfills a growing need in Ascension Parish for a freestanding space for cultural activities.

Featuring an auditorium and versatile breakout rooms, the PACE Center is situated on Boyle Bayou in Heritage Crossing, a new mixed-use development in Gonzales that includes housing, several new restaurants and the soon-to-open Alexander’s Heritage Market grocery store.

The Price LeBlanc PACE Center
Price LeBlanc PACE Center Theater Manager Jacob Sullivan and Executive Director Jaycee Gill

“The vision for the project has been in place for long time,” says PACE Center Executive Director Jaycee Gill. “It was talked about since before the 2016 flood and has been a real passion project for Mayor (Barney) Arceneaux and many leaders in the community. It answers such a need in the area.”

The flood and the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the project, which supports Ascension Parish’s growing arts scene and provides a new local option for corporate events, weddings and more. The population in Ascension Parish has nearly doubled since 2000, according to U.S. Census data.

The Price LeBlanc PACE Center in Gonzales is situated on Boyle Bayou in Heritage Crossing, a new mixed-use development.

Significant planning and strategy went into designing a facility that can be easily adapted, says Gill. It’s equipped with state-of-the-art sound and lighting to help attract and deliver quality performances, she says.

Domain Architecture designed the building. Its main feature is an 8,400-square-foot auditorium/ballroom that can accommodate around 900 with theater-style seating. The ballroom’s walls were built with acoustical fins to reduce feedback and are illuminated by soft, changing LED lights, says theater manager Jacob Sullivan.

“It’s one of the best-equipped theaters we have in greater Baton Rouge,” says Sullivan, who formerly ran the LSU Union Theater and most recently worked for the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. “We are fully equipped with top-of-the-line theatrical instrumentation.”

The auditorium/ballroom, dressing rooms, spacious restrooms and a concession area make up the first floor. The second floor holds administrative offices and two classrooms, which can be used for break-out sessions, business meetings or as extra dressing rooms for large performing arts groups, Gill says.

Two classrooms can be used for breakout sessions, meetings or extra dressing rooms.

The facility’s 2024 calendar is open for booking and will likely include shows produced by outside arts groups and internally by the PACE Center’s team. Expect to see a live outdoor concert series later this spring on the facility’s grounds, Gill says.

The Price LeBlanc PACE Center is located 1.5 miles from Interstate 10 at 2824 St. Anthony Ave., near the intersection of LA 30 and LA 44 in Gonzales. Visit priceleblancpacecenter.com for more info.