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History 1994-1996
By Jane E. Pacey

The year 1994 was a busy year for programming. The Winter Pops concert was February 26 and a trivia contest was part of the event.
A Sacred Music Concert was held Palm Sunday, Mar. 27 at the High School, directed by Tom Hawkins. It included choirs from three churches and the High School Choir, a brass ensemble, and the Cultural Society Choral group. A dulcimer workshop was also held in March.
Little Theatre Players did “Little Mary Sunshine” directed by Bob Cover in April. Dick Neumann designed the cover for the program. It had a cast of about 30 people and the musical was a huge success and performed at the Community Arts Center.
Yesterday: A Tribute to the Beatles was the first of a Celebrity Performance Series which was held at the High School Auditorium in April. The profit from the event was to be used to renovate the auditorium. The Cultural Society handled the ticketing and marketing for the event in exchange for 20% of the profit, but even though the concert was a success, no profit was made.
St. Mary’s School did “Hansel & Gretel” at the end of April and rehearsals began for “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” with over 50 in the cast. This production was held in July and was a huge success with a profit of over $4000.00, some of which was used to buy a new sound system.
In May, Viki Oliver directed the H.S. Drama club in “Storybook Theatre” which was performed at the Community Arts Center. In July, Viki also did a “Camp Shakespeare” and the group did “Midsummer’s Nights Dream” at the conclusion of the camp.
The Art In Education committee sponsored the production of “Wizard of Oz” in August. The cast was all young people aged 5-19, 84 in all. This was directed by Mike Satchell.
During the summer, Mike Faris held 6 art lessons for students on Saturday mornings and the Philharmonic Orchestra performed at Balloon Fest in August.
The Fall started with “An Italian Evening” performed by the Choral Society and directed by Marge Kasten. The Fall Art Show was held in October and a Germanfest was also held here in October. This was organized by Dr. Dottie Pedtke and Dr. Charles Jay.
No Illinois Arts Council grant was received this year. “On Golden Pond” was presented at the High School Auditorium in September. This was a professional performance and the profit was to go to restore the Band Shell. Attendance was poor.
The Holiday Craft Fair was held in November and the 34th annual Christmas Concert in December.
Scholarships were given that year to Chris Wilson, Michael Allen, Greg Allen, Sarah Smalley, Nathan Hahs, and Angela Simmons.
The Arts in Education program was given a big boost by an anonymous donation of $15,000 that was to be used as “seed money” to get the School programs started. $5000 was to be used for the next three years until the programs became self-sustaining. The Picture Person Program began this year also.
Mike Loomis designed a new brochure for the Society to use.
In 1995 David Stedelin turned over the Presidency of the Board to Webb Mikesell. The first event of the new year was a Valentine Dance. Attendance was only 26 people. The Winter Pops concert featured the Jazz Incredibles and was well attended.
Little Theatre Players presented “The Sunshine Boys” directed by Bob Cover in March and April. The cast consisted of Ken McCall, Harold Stover, Jr. , Sherm Doolen, Del Meyer, Rhonda Schwartz, Cheryl Harre, Sandra Davis, and Bill Culbreth, with John Scattergood as voice over.
Another Sacred Music Concert was held April 9 and St. Mary’s did “Aladdin” at the end of April.
A $10,000 Challenge Campaign for renovations to the building was held. An anonymous donor gave a total of $5000 if it could be matched by other members of the Society. This fund provided money for new carpeting in the lobby and auditorium, tile in the bathrooms, concession area and kitchen and all of the building was repainted with all work being done by volunteers. The new grey arm chairs were purchased.
The big summer musical was “Into the Woods”, directed by Eric Todd Rushing. Eric also directed “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland”, a children’s production, that summer.
The Fall began with the Art Show and a play “Crimes of the Heart” directed by Viki Oliver.
Special events included a benefit choral concert which was held at the Presbyterian Church for the Cultural Society and the Craft Fair held in November and the Christmas Concert in December.
Mike Faris again did art classes during the summer and the school programs were successful as usual. Viki Oliver had the “Shenandoah Express” visit the high school and they used the building for student workshops.
Scholarship winners that year were Chris Wilson, Angela Simmons, Eric Rushing, Lisa French, and Stephanie Schwartz.
The most notable happening was the Rural Genius Award given to the Cultural Society.
In 1996, under the leadership of Webb Mikesell, the mortgage was refinanced and extended for another 15 years to drop the mortgage payment from $905 to $406 a month through the Centralia Foundation.
Virginia Rohrbacher led a task force to determine ways to improve the cash flow of the Cultural Society. The plan included creating a second trust with the object of increasing income for operating expenses. Thus the idea for Campaign 2001 was born and the Endowment Trust fund began. This is a trust fund that is “open” and can receive donations at any time. The Puffer Trust, which has been the major trust of the Cultural Society since 1969 is a “Closed” trust. No donations can be added to that trust and only the interest is used.
Carpeting from the old Economy building was donated to the Cultural Society and volunteers put it in the LTP room, the costume room, and the dressing rooms.
LaVerne Brink presented an art class and Mike Faris did a slide presentation about art.
A Garden Show was planned, which was a new event, and a children’s class in music, Playful Harmonies, was begun. A new computer was purchased for the office, and parking lot lights were added.
The Winter Pops concert was held in February and directed by Bill King and included the Jazz Incredibles again.
The Sacred Music Concert was held in March with Marge Kasten as director. LTP players were busy with the 1940’s Radio Hour directed by Deanna Ducomb and Steve Kasten. Bob Cover directed a re-enactment of the “Last Supper.” St. Mary’s play in 1996 was “The Spell of Sleeping Beauty.”
The Orchestra did a Fall Concert and a spring concert that year and a special event was a “Miner’s Tribute” held at the High School.
Jay Stanley directed the highly successful “Nunsense” in July and Del Meyer directed the children’s show, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” in August.
The Fall LTP was “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” directed by Viki Oliver and Larry Wilson. The Holiday Craft Fair was again held and a string recital was given by Vicki Haltermann’s students.
Marge Kasten directed the Madrigal “A Sherwood Forest Feaste” in December. The 36th annual Candlelight Concert was also held in December. Viki Oliver directed “A Family Christmas” on Dec. 13, and 14.
Scholarship winners that year were Jennifer Boczek, Angela Simmons, Julie Francois, and Chris Wilson. Two grants were received from the Illinois Arts Council—one for $5,630 and one for $1460.

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