Campus, News, Students of Clark

Clark College Faculty and Community Hope for a New Performing Arts Center

© Mary Guevara via Canva.com

Currently, Clark College runs without a performing arts center.

Band and choir are scattered in various locations such as sky view high school, VSAA, and any available churches. The only band small enough to perform on campus is the Jazz Band conducted by Dr. Doug Harris Jazz Band Professor and musician.

Community members advocated for a performing Arts Center at Clark’s main campus for years.

Virginia Holder joined a committee in 1999 to advocate for a performing Arts Center. Unsuccessful in their efforts, the committee ceased their meetings in 2003. To Holter, having a performing arts center is vital for the younger musicians and the community.

Staff members in the music department at Clark College share similar ideas to Holder such as, Don Appert the current band instructor at Clark.

Appert, a teacher for over 32 years, argues that a performing arts center at Clark is long overdue and finding places to perform is becoming even more challenging. He has seen the college petition and fail numerous times to add a Center and he believes now more than ever this is a necessity for the college.

“Fine arts program is quite healthy but, of our performances have to be off-campus. It is becoming harder and harder because the public schools do not have the availability.” Said Appert.

Shelly Williams, music program coordinator at Clark is also experiencing some challenges; it’s the lack of a venue. Currently, Williams puts in her request for all of the concerts months before the term and they are still at the mercy of the venue and their availability.

“And we’ve sometimes have not been able to find it outside venue and had to be in the gym, or other weird space on campus because that was the only thing we had.” Said Williams “The gym is totally inappropriate for music.”

When the music department is able to find a venue, Clark is required to pay for a minimum of four hours for a janitor and a staff member at the High School to chaperone and the pricing of the venue.

This typically costs over 1,000 dollars for the college per concert. Having multiple bands each performing multiple concerts this quickly adds up leaving little money for new sheet music.

“Because our budget for buying new music is like, I think $100 out of the budget, and that pays for maybe one song, but we put on three sets of concerts a year.” Says Dr. Jacob Funk Clark College’s choral director.

As numbers for the Music Department begin to incline after COVID-19, Bands are outgrowing the performance spaces typically.

Dr. Funk was previously able to fit his choir in churches since they had better acoustics than the gym and often more availability than a local high school. Since the choir now holds 36 students they are too large to perform in a church.

“So we have to pop around places and figure stuff out,” Funk said. “We wouldn’t have to with the performing arts center though. We wouldn’t get limited.”

Adding a Performing Arts Center is not a new idea for the College. There have been people advocating for a center since 1999 and the plans went far enough to draft plans to find a location on campus for the performing arts center.

“It is safe to say that we are long overdue for a Performing Arts Center here at Clark.” says Dr. Appert.

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