Oct. 24—Jeanne Ward will never forget the day businessman and philanthropist Dave Arbogast walked into her office at Troy Christian School and announced he and his wife, Linda, were ready to donate $2 million to help build a new performing arts center.
The generous gift they had in mind would not just fulfill the school's dream of having a small campus venue available to the community, but would aim even higher. The Arbogasts pictured a larger venue that could provide entertainment, education and inspiration to the entire Upper Miami Valley region.
Now, four years later, Ward has a new office and a new title. The former assistant school superintendent is relishing her role as the executive director of the Arbogast Performing Arts Center. The nonprofit organization, affectionately dubbed The APAC, is on the grounds of Troy Christian, but is financially independent. It's owned and operated by a board of directors and leases the land for a nominal amount.
The center, which requires $3 million to complete an ambitious fundraising campaign, has recently received a dollar-for-dollar matching gift of $1.5 million. "If it is matched the building will be debt-free," says Ward. "That allows us to serve our communities with lower costs for building usage, especially for schools and nonprofit organizations."
A ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours of the $11.5 million facility were held Oct. 19. A grand opening performance on Saturday, Oct. 30, will feature The Texas Tenors, an Emmy-award-winning trio. In keeping with the center's emphasis on building community, the first concert is an Americana tribute to first responders and health care workers. For their protection, masks will be required. Future safety requirements will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
The industrial-chic building, in hues of gray and black, is designed to accommodate a variety of community events. "We've kept it neutral so that our local artists can be the focal point," explains Ward.
Highlights of the 39,000-square-foot venue include a 1,200-seat auditorium with tiered seating, a 75x50 stage and roomy backstage area, a lobby that can seat 180 for banquets, a second-floor lobby and art gallery. There's a catering kitchen, dressing rooms with showers, eight large restrooms, a conference room, meeting and office rooms. A mini-stage in the lobby can be used for pre-show performances that showcase local musicians.
The facility can be rented and offers a variety of banquet spaces, as well as conference and meeting rooms.
"Everything is state-of-the-art," says David Demuth, the center's production manager. "It's plug-and-play — regardless of your event you can come in, plug-in and off you go!"
Beginning in the spring, the recording studio will be available to schools, colleges and artists. In addition to the large recording space it will be equipped with a vocal isolation room, drum isolation room and a mixing console.
The attractive and spacious café and outdoor patio will be used for concessions during shows and is also available for pre-show receptions, meetings, and mixers. The café houses a bar and tables designed and built by the Matthew Tamerisk Collection in Dayton. The bar top is a live edge slab cut from a redwood tree in California. Ten hardwood tables on casters can be rearranged to accommodate larger groups or small team meetings.
"The café has the ability to serve espresso-based drinks using a beautiful Modbar Espresso system which has the espresso heads built into the bar," explains Sherry Wells, the center's patron and promotions manager.
"We always want to offer a season that reflects the interests of our communities," says Ward. "A year ago, we held numerous focus groups in the upper Miami Valley region to hear what they would like to see in performances and how the performing arts could be used to benefit and enrich the lives of our residents. We want the APAC to be a collaborative expression."
Feedback indicated folks in the area wanted a wide variety of offerings. You'll see that reflected in this first season when entertainment ranges from illusionist/magician Jon Acuff to comedian Jeff Allen and from Grammy Award winner Michael Bolton to "Forever Motown."
Education is also a goal, so many of the touring groups will interact with the community. A good example is The Silhouettes Dance Group, the "America's Got Talent" Golden Buzzer act featuring shadow dancers of every age that will perform Nov. 13. "They'll provide free dance clinics," says Ward.
A "Pay it Forward" initiative ensures a percentage of center membership donations will provide tickets to those who might not be able to afford to attend performances, workshops and educational events. One-year memberships range from $100 to $500 and, depending on the level, include discounted and pre-sale tickets. Other perks: A 10 percent-off dining card foe participating Miami County restaurants, pre-show receptions on select shows and APAC merchandise.
Art for sale
"One of our goals is to showcase local talent in the area of art and music," notes Ward. "We want to promote anything creative in our community that can inspire others." Artwork, which will change throughout the year, is for sale.
The opening art exhibits — you'll see them in the mezzanine gallery and the café — feature the work of Troy artists Nancy Shuler and Annette Russell Cargill. "I have been an artist all my life, creating scenes that inspire me from nature," says Shuler, who paints portraits, landscapes and abstracts in oil. Cargill, known for her contemporary abstracts, says she likes "the conscious and subconscious aspects of painting, the endless possibilities."
Ward says the plan is to rotate artists from all of the communities in the upper Miami Valley region.
The APAC's slogan is Creating Community. It'll be fun to see how this beautiful new performing arts center fulfills that mission in the months and years ahead. Meanwhile, the Arbogasts, Troy Christian Center and all of those involved with this creative arts project have reason to be proud.
HOW TO GO
What: The Texas Tenors
When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 30
Where: Arbogast Performing Arts Center, 500 South Dorset Road, Troy
Tickets: $25-$75. Order at www.arbogastpac.com or call the box office from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at 937-418-8392. Group rates are available.
More info: www.arbogastpac.com
Note: Masks will be required.
A LOOK AT THE ARBOGAST SCHEDULE
After The Texas Tenors, here are the performers coming to the Arbogast:
The Silhouettes dance group, Nov. 13, 7 p.m. Tickets: $15-$45, children 3-12 are $15. There will be a free dance clinic the morning of the performance at 9:30 a.m. that is limited to 200 dancers. Pre-registration needed, call 937-418-8392 for more information.
Steven Curtis Chapman, Acoustic Christmas, Dec. 5, 7 p.m. Tickets: $25-$75, children 3-12 are $20.
Michael Bolton, Greatest Hits and Holiday Favorites, Dec. 19, 7 p.m. Tickets: $45-$95
Jon Acuff, bestselling author and speaker, Jan. 13, 6 p.m. Tickets: $15-$55
Mike Super, illusionist and magician, Feb. 5, 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $20-$55, children 3-12 are $15 (show recommended for 6+)
Jeff Allen, comedian, Feb. 26, 7 p.m. Tickets: $15-$45
Forever Motown, tribute to Motown legends, March 12, 7 p.m. Tickets: $15-$55, children 3-12 are $15 (show recommended for 6+)
Brass Transit, the musical legacy to Chicago, May 13, 7 p.m. Tickets: $15-$55, children 3-12 are $15 (show recommended for 6+)