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Callis updates Chamber on PAC progress

Facility's flexibility and partnerships will be keys to success

Mary Callis says enduring partnerships and thoughtful design will both play critical roles in the success of the Performing Arts Center at Garrett College, which is scheduled to open next spring.

“There was a strong emphasis on flexibility in the design of the Performing Arts Center,” Callis, executive director of both Garrett Lakes Arts Festival and the new PAC, said at Wednesday’s Garrett County Chamber of Commerce Marketing Roundtable. “The design team wanted to make sure the PAC could host everything from an intimate recital to a 400-seat performance.”

Callis said good examples of the flexible design include multiple seating configurations in the main theatre along with the ability to divide a 200-seat multi-purpose room into three separate spaces with moveable walls.

“We made several visits to other performing arts centers and everyone told us, ‘Make sure to put a premium on flexibility,’ ” noted Callis.

Callis said developing strong, long-term partnerships was just as important as designing flexible space.

“We have five partners who have all signed 10-year agreements to contribute to the PAC’s sustainability,” said Callis, noting that Garrett College, GLAF, Garrett County Public Schools, the Garrett County Arts Council and Garrett County Government are all making either monetary or in-kind contributions to the PAC.

“I really think a key to our success is having five partners personally invested in making sure we’re sustainable for the next 10 years while we build out our programming,” said Callis.

Dr. Richard Midcap, Garrett College’s president, echoed Callis’ remarks about the importance of the partnerships.

“This facility would not have been possible without the collaborations created by the five partners,” said Midcap. “It’s so very typical of how we work together for the common good in Garrett County.”

Callis said the PAC already has 47 events scheduled for its first year of operation – among them theatrical productions by both Northern and Southern highs’ theatre groups.

Callis noted that the PAC’s spaces – which also include offices, dressing rooms, a catering kitchen and a piano lab with 17 digital pianos – can host everything from a wedding to a large-scale conference.

“I can see a conference using the multi-purpose room as three breakout rooms, having a presentation for everyone in the theatre, and then coming back to use the entire multi-purpose room for a catered meal,” observed Callis.

Callis said a multi-year business plan has already been developed for the PAC and that an operations plan is in development.

Cherie Krug, executive director of the Garrett College Foundation, said the Foundation is preparing to announce an endowment campaign named “The Campaign for Garrett: Realizing Our Dream.” The endowment, which will generate funds to assist in PAC operational costs, has a goal of $2.5 million.

“We all know that performing arts centers require significant financial support beyond what ticket sales can provide,” said Krug, who indicated the Foundation has already raised a substantial amount of funds for the endowment during the silent stage of the campaign. “This endowment will help ensure we can afford to bring high-quality performing arts to Garrett County for years to come.”