Performing Arts Center opening highlights GC's 50th anniversary
PAC scheduled to open near 50th GC commencement exercises
There was no plan to link the graduation of Garrett College's 50th class and the opening of the Performing Arts Center at Garrett College. Even so, it's provided a wonderful opportunity.
"It's serendipitous that we will be able to celebrate both the graduation of our 50th class and the opening of a performing arts center that Garrett County has long needed during spring 2022," said Dr. Richard Midcap, Garrett College's president. "This provides us with the perfect opportunity to commemorate our past while looking hopefully to our future."
This exciting coincidence required broad-based support for a performing arts center that has been the focus of community efforts for decades.
Senator George Edwards, Delegate Wendell Beitzel and County Commissioners Paul Edwards, Jim Hinebaugh, and Larry Tichnell worked closely with Governor Larry Hogan and Garrett College's administration to identify the state and local funding to build the PAC. The College, the County, Garrett County Public Schools, Garrett Lakes Arts Festival (GLAF), and Garrett County Arts Council then forged a partnership to create a long-term plan to operate the new PAC. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the College and the County, and the codicil agreements with the other partners, run through FY2032.
"Everyone involved – the College, the County, GLAF, the Board of Education, and the Garrett County Arts Council – knew that a long-term agreement ensuring the fiscal sustainability of the PAC was critical," said Midcap. "I appreciate the willingness all of these entities demonstrated to the long-term success of this initiative."
"Garrett College has always been a community-centered institution," said Don Morin, chair of the Garrett College Board of Trustees. "And this will very much be a community-centric performing arts center. This facility – to be constructed in the only county in the state without a performing arts center – will support the needs of our school system as well as the county's arts community. We appreciate the collaborative nature of our partners, which was critical in reaching these agreements."
The facility will include renovation of a space that previously served as the college gymnasium and expansion of the footprint to include state-of-the-art space for the college's Continuing Education and Workforce Development (CEWD) division.
"GLAF is very pleased to play a role in bringing this facility to Garrett County," said GLAF Executive Director Mary Callis, whose organization's entire performance season will take place in the Performing Arts Center per the agreement. "This facility will open up a world of possibilities for the county's arts community."
Superintendent of Schools Barbara Baker said she is also enthusiastic about the participation of the school system, which will have 10 weeks of priority Performing Arts Center use during each school year as part of the agreement.
"This project will have a positive impact on performing arts in our schools at every level from elementary through high school," said Baker.
"The Garrett County Arts Council views this partnership as an exciting, creative strategy in helping meet our mission of ensuring the arts are available to everyone in our county through the funding of our arts organizations, events and activities," said GCAC Executive Director Kathy Beachler, whose organization will have space within the performing arts center for GCAC-supported activities as part of the agreement.
The design process for the facility was led by The DLR Group, an architectural firm out of Washington, D.C. Leonard S. Fiore, Inc. is the project's general contractor.
The project is centered around the college's old gymnasium, which will be renovated into a state-of-the-art proscenium theatre that will seat approximately 450 patrons.
A 16,000-square-foot addition to the theatre will feature a 2,000-square-foot conference center that can also be used as a recital hall, black box theatre, and reception venue. New educational spaces are also included, including a 16-seat piano lab donated by the Community Trust Foundation, as well as a sound and lighting booth.
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