Sarah Lankford

Sarah Lankford

A nearly six-figure renovation is underway to convert the former Powell Funeral Home in downtown Southern Pines to a new performance arts venue and studio.

The Encore Center is slated to open in August.

The transformation spans most of the 9,500-square-foot space with a new theater auditorium, two large dance studios and multiple classrooms and multi-purpose rooms for music instruction.

“People are busy and kids are involved in so many things today. We like to offer families a place to come where the arts are working in collaboration,” said Sarah Lankford, Encore Center owner and founder of Cameron-based Carolina Performing Arts Studio. “Families can have one child in dance class while their sibling is in, say, a guitar lesson. That is unique.”

Her original studio in Harnett County will remain open, after growing from zero to 900 students in just two seasons. The Encore Center is the company’s first foray into Moore County.

“We want the arts to be a priority for families while making it convenient and affordable. It is very important to us that we keep it affordable,” Lankford said.

The inaugural season of the Encore Center will feature familiar, family-friendly stories such as “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “A Christmas Carol,” a collection of love stories in “Almost,” “Maine for Valentine’s Day,” and the grand musical “A Little Princess” next spring.

Rehearsals for the first production at Encore Center are expected to commence in September.

For tickets, show information, and information on preview classes or fall registration, visit or Encore by CPAS on Facebook.

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