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Bigger & Better

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Galva-Holstein enlarges on Performing Arts Center plan, groundbreaking nears

Not only is Galva-Holstein closing in on its goal to begin construction on an ambitious Performing Arts Center - the project will be bigger than originally anticipated.

Ground-breaking should begin in June or July, said Kathy Breyfogle, a spokesperson for the GH Foundation group.

The 300-seat, $1.8 million plan has just been expanded to 400 seats and $2.13 million.

"The campaign has been going very well. As the donors have come through and we realized how much interest there is in this development, we became concerned that it might not be big enough," Breyfogle said. "We expanded the plan to allow for 400 seats, and we are now having a "Selling of the Seats" program to finish it all off."

Roughly $120,000 remains to be raised.

"Everyone is really fired up. The goal is to get everyone involved," Breyfogle said.

The school and community members of the GH Foundation have held many fundraisers to help reach the goal for the construction, including a unique "Hee-Haw" style talent show last November.

The family of Roger Clausen, a local industrial leader, offered half a million dollars to get the campaign started last year. The school district also made a commitment.

"From there, donors have come through with wonderful gifts, from $5,000 to 50,000, but the best part is that so many people have given whatever they could afford to, a hundred dollars at a time," Breyfogle said.

One graduate from many years ago, who had relocated to the east coast as a very young woman and never returned, heard about the effort and sent a pledge of $50,000. "She wrote a wonderful letter praising the people of the area for their vision. We were so excited to get that," she said.

The project is a first for the area. Storm Lake schools have also had preliminary discussion towards a future performing arts addition.

The Galva-Holstein Performing Arts Center will be connected to both the elementary and high school. In addition to school music, drama and speech performances, it would be made available to the community as a site to attract professional performances and host community theater, dance and music recitals, veteran's events, religious events, benefit efforts, business conventions, speakers and more.

Preliminary designs by Neumann Monson Wictor Architects of Sioux City show center and wing style seating curving around a 12-foot-by-038-foot stage in the theater, with a lobby, changing rooms and makeup area, "green room" concessions stand and administrative offices.

"This is being built at the school, but it is just as much a community building," Breyfogle said.

One member of the committee had recently retired as the ticketing specialist for University of Minnesota sports, and feels the center can be promoted to bring fine arts like drama and opera to the area.

It should also promote business development, and can be used to host conferences.

School district, GH Foundation and architects representatives have recenty toured several performing arts centers around the region, and discussed adjustments to their plans based on what they have discovered from the other projects' experiences.

"It has been helpful to ask these people what they might have done differently if they were to do it again," Breyfogle said.

"Our plan will be for a very flexible facility that will have a screen that lowers down for video, state-of-the-art light and sound, and comfortable theater-style seating."

The Foundation will meet later this week to firm up their plans.

The Galva-Holstein school board will have jurisdiction over the facility, and the final go-ahead for construction will be theirs.

For Breyfogle, who directed plays for the students of the district for a decade, the project is a dream come trues.

"I can tell you this - a gym is a wonderful place to play sports, but it isn't much of a place for the arts - not when you are putting on a play with volleyballs bouncing at you from the other side of the room," she laughs.

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