Everyone has a passion
For some, they live to attend their high school football game on Friday nights. Others can’t wait for the first day of archery season. Central Pennsylvania is a perfect place for them. However, some people are passionate about things that aren’t as readily accessible in this “neck of the woods” like the visual and performing arts. If Front and Centre Productions is successful, this will soon be changing.
With few arts opportunities in central PA, Stephen and Jennifer Switala decided to reach out to the community to start a performing arts group that would allow people access to the arts. Front and Centre Productions, Inc. is the nonprofit organization started, seeking to offer high quality arts experiences to the Moshannon Valley communities.
Founded in 2009, Front and Centre Productions has offered classes and events in theatre, music, and dance. With the addition of the visual arts, Front and Centre Productions will offer a full complement of arts opportunities for central Pennsylvania residents of all ages. Since its inception, Front and Centre Productions has been somewhat of a traveling ensemble of vagabonds. With no central location to call its own, the organization has been dependent upon the generosity of local school districts, churches, organizations, and businesses who have provided locations for rehearsals, events, performances, etc.
The Jack Weaver Center for Visual and Performing Arts
In an effort to continue offering arts experiences and to expand the current level of offerings, Front and Centre Productions is opening a place to call its own, a "home" for the arts in central PA, especially for Clearfield and Centre Counties. The new home will be named after one of the people who helped to make the program what it is today - The Jack Weaver Center for Visual and Performing Arts, aka "Pappy Jack's Place." Jack was a fervent supporter of Front and Centre. He was an integral part of the set design and construction team for IGNITE Youth Theatre, designing and building most of them since the beginning. Jack lost his battle with heart disease on July 15, 2013 just before IGNITE was to present Hairspray. The show was dedicated to Pappy Jack.
Front and Centre Productions will be leasing a space in historic downtown Philipsburg where the arts center will become a thriving community spot. There are many empty store fronts in Philipsburg, a sign of an economically distressed area. It becomes harder and harder for businesses to remain without a consistent flow of traffic and shoppers to Front Street. We believe that the presence of an arts center will be an opportunity to bring arts participants to the downtown, where they can shop, eat, take in a movie, and much more, supporting the other Front Street businesses. Front and Centre Productions will work collaboratively with the Main Street Program to offer events and activities that will encourage more traffic to the downtown to experience what the area has to offer.
In addition to expanding its current offerings, Front and Centre Productions is excited about future new opportunities. With a safe atmosphere, young people - especially those at risk - will be welcomed to events offering mentoring experiences and tutoring opportunities that encourage them to strive for excellence and to realize their full potential. Additional arts opportunities are being planned in all 4 arts disciplines to provide a full arts experience for all.
Grand Openings are exciting times for businesses and organizations not only because it marks the beginning of operations, but because something special is about to happen. This Grand Opening will be a Celebration of the life of Jack Weaver and his dedication to the arts. There will be music, refreshments, speakers, ribbon cutting, door prizes, and much more. Pappy Jack's Place will provide a safe and creative home for the arts and this Grand Opening will showcase the wonderful opportunities to come. Inviting the entire community to come and celebrate will be a special day for Philipsburg, a time to recognize how special Front Street can be.
Below are some pictures of the future Jack Weaver Center for Visual and Performing Arts. Imagine the Possibilities!
Risks and challenges
Planning a Grand Opening is a detailed job. You want everything planned to go perfectly. The music and speakers will be wonderful, the refreshments scrumptious, the time together priceless. But, what if something planned goes awry, like a speaker backs out at the last minute, or the cookies don't show up on time! These minor things in the scheme of the moment. It is a celebration of a wonderful past, contagious present, and the hope of a bright future ahead.
Opening a visual and performing arts center in a small rural town in central Pennsylvania can be a difficult sell to the community that has never had one. Are the arts important enough for a center dedicated to them? We believe they are and NOW is the time to prove it!! Fortunately, we have a strong support system of parents, young people, and community organizations to assist in educating the area on the importance of the arts. Offering programs that are unique and interesting enough for people to sign up for can also be tricky. Front and Centre will be polling its participants regularly to see what types of programs they would like offered.
As with any building project, there can be difficulties in getting the space into a condition that fits your organization for the Grand Opening - cleaning, painting, furnishing the space, etc. These "housekeeping" issues remain once the center is open as well. With the same respect and hard work as Jack Weaver demonstrated, this community will honor him in this Center for a long, long time. He will be smiling and blessing this place. Thank you Pappy Jack! We Love You!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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