4,000 high school thespians bring drama downtown

Approximately 4,000 participants are in town this weekend for the Georgia Thespian Conference that is being held at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center.

According to chapter director Frank Pruet, this includes students from 160 high schools across Georgia. It is the second largest high school thespian conference in the country.

Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO Peter Bowden said the event could have an economic impact of about $784,000.

The event brings students in grades ninth through 12 to Columbus, as well as guest artists from around the country to run workshops in drama and the arts.

The conference, which is in its fifth year in Columbus, has been going on for about 30 years, Pruet said.

"About 30 colleges and universities are here," Pruet said, "and they make contact with the kids."

The colleges hold auditions for juniors and seniors. He said many of the kids attending get scholarships through these auditions and interviews.

In addition to the institution scholarships, the Georgia Thespians also award $22,500 in scholarships -- 10 $2,000 scholarships and one $2,500 scholarship.

The conference began around noon Thursday and will conclude around 5 p.m. today.

It is being sponsored by many groups including the RiverCenter for Performing Arts, Columbus State University, the Columbus Convention & Trade Center.