After providing 18 years of artistic and educational services to the community, the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation has undergone a makeover and has a new pavilion to boot.



Gathering Thursday morning, the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce, the Fort Walton Beach Greater Chamber of Commerce, Niceville Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce and the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce helped the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation celebrate their big unveil with a ribbon cutting and Dugas Pavilion dedication ceremony.



Because of the Dugas family’s donation — the pavilion’s namesake — the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation now has a 1,600 square foot pavilion, covered by a large canopy canvas that’s going to be used to house their many activities, including "All Kinds of Art," and the 10-week "Concerts in the Village" series, which premieres May 2.



Gathering Thursday morning, hordes of MKAF friends, volunteers, supporters, sponsors and many others, flooded the grounds at 4323 Commons Drive West to be part of the big reveal.



"This has been a long time coming," said Destin's Mayor Sam Seevers, speaking to the guests. "This is important to our community in so many different ways."



Marcia Hull, executive director at the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, said she believed the MKAF rebranding was working on God's timeline.



"We started playing with this idea a few years ago, but it didn't go anywhere," Hull said. "A month later, the oil spill happened, and we put the project on the backburner."



Hull added that she was happy they waited until now to start the project.



The Niceville Senior High School Opus One Chorus entertained guests between speeches and introductions.



The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, with its tiny staff of two — Hull and Deb Nissley, director of operations at MKAF — said they have been waiting a long time for this. Hull and Nissley agree that art and education are two of the most important aspects that The Emerald Coast has to offer residents and tourists.



Mattie Kelly, one of Destin's most well-known residents left a legacy and a love of art and education behind when she passed away. Mattie also left a 52 acre plot of land her family once used for turpentine farming behind — now the home of the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation.



Also in attendance for the ceremony Thursday morning, members of Mattie's family; Brant, Jodie, Laurie and Amy Kelly were joined by the Dugas family; Wayne, Laura, Steve and Lynn Dugas as the four chambers simultaneously cut their four multi-colored ribbons, dedicating the pavilion and the grounds.



According to Hull and Nissley, the day would not have been possible without the Kelly and Dugas families, Coastal Bank and Trust, the day’s sponsor, not to mention the many MKAF volunteers, supporters and board members and others involved.



"'Art washes away the dust of everyday life,'" said Seevers, stressing the importance of the arts while quoting Pablo Picasso, one of the most well-known artists of all time.



For more information on Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, the Dugas Pavilion and the events they will be offering visit MattieKellyArtsFoundation.org or call 650-2226.