Wednesday, November 26, 2014

C. J. Huff: Performing arts plan will improve the quality of life for our city

(From Joplin Schools)

Joplin Schools Board of Education approved a joint exploration of ways Joplin Schools and Joplin's Connect2Culture organization could work together to enhance the cultural offerings at the Performing Arts Center currently under construction at Joplin High School. The approval came during the board's regularly scheduled meeting on November 25, 2014.

Connect2Culture presented preliminary plans to the board on how the collaboration could proceed pending additional research and fundraising. The preliminary plans call for an approximately 23,000 square-foot addition to the existing JHS Performing Arts Center and upgrades to the current audio-visual system planned for the facility. The upgrades and addition would be funded entirely by private dollars secured by Connect2Culture through donations, grants, and other private funding sources.

The addition and system upgrades would help meet the needs of touring shows and educational programming, enabling the performing arts center to host a variety of performances beyond high school programs including classic rock, jazz, dance troupes, opera, national theatrical touring productions, and smaller Broadway productions. Connect2Culture also would fund and manage the scheduling for these productions. This proposed addition would not change the construction timeline for the current facility, which is scheduled to open to students and staff in March 2015.

"When we began planning for the new high school, our vision was to find ways to work with businesses and community organizations to increase engagement in our schools," said Joplin Schools Superintendent Dr. C.J. Huff. "This partnership with Connect2Culture fits that vision. It would allow us to share this beautiful, functional new space with the Joplin community and improve the quality of life for our city. We are also excited by the opportunities that it would give students throughout our district. We look forward to working together to develop a plan that meets the needs of both organizations."

Connect2Culture, a not-for-profit arts organization, was founded in 2009 in Joplin to enhance community through the development of cultural resources including arts, history, nature, and education. Connect2Culture had been exploring plans for a performing arts center in Joplin since 2010 when it conducted an initial planning study by nationally recognized arts consultants The North Group. Conversations regarding a partnership with Joplin Schools began in earnest in April 2014.

"We believe we can develop a plan and partnership that benefits students, school staff, parents, and patrons and supports growth and development in our community," said Clifford Wert, co-vice president and treasurer of the Connect2Culture board of directors. "We have researched other communities that have similar partnerships and will use these communities as models as we move forward with this exploration."

The renderings and plans that were shared with the board of the potential addition to the existing Performing Arts Center at the high school were fully funded through a grant from the Community Foundation Southwest Missouri-Joplin Recovery Fund. The next step for both organizations is to set additional meetings to review research and partnership agreements and to set a timeline for the potential joint project. Once a final plan has been developed, it will go before the Joplin Schools Board of Education and the Connect2Culture Board of Directors for final approval.

"We are thankful to Joplin Schools Board of Education for supporting this first step in the process," Wert said. "We have much work ahead, but we are excited to see where this partnership goes and what it could mean for the continued development of a vibrant cultural Joplin community."


Anonymous said...

First let me say that this could be a good idea, but there would need to be a LOT of clarification. The students and their organizations should and would come first to use the center. Everything and one would need to work around the students. Will that happen, most likely no. In reference to saying "will improve the quality of life for our city", we already have that. MSSU and its students provide wonderful concerts and most are free to the public.There are many outlets within the city that attribute to the arts, you just have to attend. I believe this administration and board need to go back to the basics. You have a district that most of your community does not support or trust. I would suggest reviewing within before entertaining outside sources.

Anonymous said...

As a person who actually produces events that people BUY tickets to attend...listening last night... they have no clue.

I rent facilities in public schools several times a year. You don't need this group. Maybe a coordinator to schedule or manage, but not as proposed.

Their management would just add another layer of involvement which would make me less likely to use the facility

Anonymous said...

You commentors insist on interjecting facts into CJ's fantasy. There was nothing, NOTHING! here when he arrived: no edcation, no assistance to those in need, no community involvement, no business involvement, and no culture.

HE has delivered evey one of these things to us, and we show him no gratitude. It would serve us right if he went somewhere where he was appreciated. The least we could do is rename the town after him (not to be confused with Carl Junction).

For CJ!

Anonymous said...

11;46 must be his wife or one of those overpaid idiot's in the bunker

Anonymous said...

Most schools with performing arts centers have a Director of the Performing Arts that's in charge of running, scheduling, and promoting the facility. This would be someone on staff by the school, usually with an administrative salary schedule. This person is typically involved in the music and theater department within the district as well, sometimes facilitating as the head of the department. Based on what we've seen in the past within the district, this will never happen.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean we're giving up on the downtown performing arts center/town green, etc? That was the one project I was most excited about.

Anonymous said...

Great! Now C.J. will bring Cirque du Soleil to town. He's my hero.

Anonymous said...

Several of the questions that come to my mind include: Who would pay for maintenance, repairs, and additional utility costs for this 23,000 square feet? Since this would be on Joplin Schools property, and unless they plan to background check every person attending an event, there could be major problems with violations of the Safe Schools Act.

To 11:46: I hope you are joking because I laughed hysterically when I read your comments.

Anonymous said...

This 11:46

Read closely and you will smell the sarcasm.

For CJ!