Front and Centre arts group seeking Philipsburg home

lfalce@centredaily.comSeptember 30, 2013 

— A Philipsburg arts group hopes to have a home base soon after a fundraising campaign reached an initial goal in just more than a week.

The Front and Centre Productions arts group is looking to open a downtown location for programs and practices. A prospective location has been identified on Front Street, and a goal was set of $25,000 to open the Jack Weaver Center for Visual and Performing Arts. That figure would provide a year’s worth of operating capital for the new venture.

Director Stephen Switala decided to use the online crowdsourcing website Kickstarter to give the project its initial jolt. He set a $2,000 goal with a 30 day window.

The project met that benchmark in just nine days.

“It is a true testament to many beliefs that the arts are essential to a thriving community,” said Switala. “It would be truly amazing to see it continue to grow, which would enable us to offer an even more spectacular celebration of the arts.”

With the new location, rather than chance uses of local church basements, volunteer dining room tables and the gym space at Cheer Central, Front and Centre would be able to offer an expanded variety of arts, culture and community programming. The group’s best known program is currently Inspire Youth Theatre, which presented the musicals “Freckleface Strawberry” and “Hairspray” this summer.

An expanded roster of planned activities includes Impact Show Choir, which held auditions in September, instrumental and choral music programs, a visual arts initiative, dance workshops, tutoring and mentoring services, and community outreach. The Inspire Community Theatre program will be presenting “The Christmas Post” in December. Auditions for that production are slated for Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Philipsburg Elementary School.

“Philipsburg and the surrounding area are thirsty for a place to gather to teach, learn, display and support the arts. Once the doors are open, we will welcome all ages to the many art programs and workshops that will be offered,” said Mark Houston, a member of the Front and Centre advisory committee. “We are looking forward to the grand opening of the arts center to celebrate with the community and all of the generous people that have supported us on this journey.”

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