The foundation raising funds for City Springs’ arts programs is close to hiring its first executive director. And the first event booking announcements for Sandy Springs’ new arts-focused civic center are coming within days, city and foundation leaders say.

Sandy Springs Foundation board members said at their Jan. 10 meeting at City Hall that later that day, they were interviewing a short list of four candidates for the new executive director position. A total of 13 people applied for the combined leadership and fundraising position, they said.

The Byers Theatre in City Springs as it appeared from the stage last month. (John Ruch)

The director likely will be paid $125,000 to $150,000 a year, with no benefits and no commissions, as an independent contractor. It’s the foundation’s only staff position so far, but more positions are expected eventually and could become full employees, board members said.

Meanwhile, the long-awaited revelation of City Springs’ first major arts events bookings is expected this week. Michael Enoch, general manager of the Performing Arts Center – the collective name for City Springs’ theaters and other event spaces – said two to three acts or events will be announced for starters.

“Hopefully, within a couple days, that first announcement is coming,” he said.

City and foundation officials have previously said a June 9 event in the new City Green park is in the works – possibly the annual Food That Rocks restaurant event – and that a two-week series of grand opening events for theater and other spaces is planned for August. Board chair Ken Byers and wife Tricia are donating $2.5 million, partly to establish the new musical-oriented City Springs Theatre Company, which presumably will perform in the main theater. Also mentioned were Mayor Rusty Paul’s annual “State of the City” speech slated to be held there in June, and a Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta fundraiser that may be coming in October.

A few other booking and programming bits mentioned at the Jan. 10 meeting: the Sandy Springs Education Force expressing interest in creating a literacy-oriented program; and Enoch’s desire to establish a “speakers series” and a summer concert series.

The foundation’s purpose is to raise money to support arts events – both those booked by Enoch and those created by the community – and to ensure educational programming and community input. Under the slogan “Art Springs Forth,” the foundation aims to raise $7.5 million to start.

Enoch said he would like the foundation to raise a $500,000 “booking fund.” That could be used to attract big-name acts and be sustained by profits from their performances, and also could subsidize “some things are inherently not profitable because that’s the nature of art.”

At the meeting, the board approved a policy of taking 10 percent of any restricted donations – meaning ones aimed at supporting a particular program or event – for administrative overhead, which will help to fund the executive director position. A fundraising brochure is available online and is coming soon in print. And smaller options such as bricks with names will be detailed more full in coming months. In the meantime, interested donors can go to the City Springs website here.

The City Springs complex — located between Johnson Ferry Road and Mount Vernon Highway at Roswell Road — also includes a new City Hall, retail space and housing. It is set to open in phases this year, with the housing within the next few weeks; the park and City Hall in the spring or summer; and the theater spaces in August and September.

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.