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History 1997-1999
By Jane E. Pacey

The year started with Margaret Loomis as the Administrator until August and then Jane Pacey was hired in September. Virginia Rohrbacher was President of the Board and the Campaign 2001 for additional capital to start the Endowment Trust Fund was underway. The plan was, In five years, 2001, the Trust pledges & interest earned would provide working capital for the building. It was also important to establish an “open trust” that could be added to with subsequent donations.
The following events were held in 1997. Bob Cover directed “Lend Me a Tenor”, which was a comedy and featured Harold Stover, Jr. Kenneth McCall, Rob Schnicker, Charles Cross, Cheryle Harre, Susie Queen, Carrie Perkins Schnicker, and Sandra Davis.
Byron Marlow directed “Jesus Christ Superstar” which was a huge hit and included a cast of many, including Chris Wilson, and Byron Marlow, & others. Bart Holland directed “Jungle Book” with a huge cast of children, and “Love Letters” was performed by Frank Buckingham and Deanna DuComb as the entire cast.
The Palette & Brush Club had their annual Fall Art show and LaVerne Brink and Don Ross taught art classes during the year. The Orchestra held their annual Winter Pops and performed at the Taste of Freedom concert at Rend Lake. The Christmas concert featured both the Choral and Orchestra. The Choral group participated in the Miner’s Tribute, a special event. and other special events held that year were the Garden Show, the Craft Fair, the Last Supper, directed by Bob Cover with the Gospel Explosion concert.
The fourth installment for $3000 of the Perrine Trust was received and helped provide funding for the School Programs. This year the programs were Rusty Sabella in Concert—who then also performed in the evening for adults; The Magic of Mime, Pied Piper and the Frog Prince, the Moss Gown, Dance Stories, Sound & Creatures of the North, Medus, and Jack and the Mean Bean.
The Society hosted Business After Hours on March 12 and had a special event —a Roast for Viki Oliver’s Birthday which raised funds for the Society. The Balloon Fest committee held an Elvis concert at the building and the Southern Illinois Community Arts workshop was held. St. Mary’s play was “Pied Piper of Hamlin”
There was a definite cash flow problem at the Society and it was difficult to pay the bills each month. During the month of October, the furnace in the main auditorium went bad and had to be replaced. Jane & Virginia had to go to the banks and borrow the money ($8250). The Lighting was done for the Parking Lot in 1997 and handicap parking signs were put up by the doors.
Scholarship winners were Chris Wilson, Angela Simmons, Loren Wilson, and Peter Camphouse. The costume room was used by many organizations as usual and the Girl Scouts used the building for their cookie distribution.
In 1998, Jerry Piper served as President of the Society. His term lasted until May, 2000. Two major donations were received that year: $2000 from Nations Bank and $4900 from Faye Wham. While President, Jerry worked very hard on developing marketing and long-range plans for the Society. He also suggested that we order new Art Panels for the Society, which have been a great addition to all of our exhibits and displays.
It was a successful year with programming. Viki Oliver directed “Fractured Fairy Tales” for High School students which was performed at the Community Arts Center. “ A Christmas Carol” was directed by Cindy Jones and Lynn Bossardet and was very successful. Bart Holland directed “Steel Magnolias” which proved to be a favorite of many. Jay Stanley directed the highly successful “Nunsense II” with the original cast returning. Carrie Perkins Schnicker directed “Peter Pan” which had a cast of adults and children and Larry Wilson directed “Music Man in Concert” which was performed at the High School. The Orchestra did their Fall concert and featured Kranmer’s Marionettes. St. Mary’s School play that year was “Thumbelina”.
Through successful programming & donations, we were able to end the year with an excess of $17,000.
Some special events were the Trivia Night, the Shakespearean Teacher Workshop, an Up with People Concert at the High School, a dance recital and the Candlelight Christmas Concert. Since the McCall’s announced they were moving, a special reception was held for them as a farewell.
The school programs that year were Beauty & the Beast, Amelia Earhart, Jabberwocky, Reading is Magic, Pinochio, Slam Poetry, and Sprinning Yarns. The Picture Person Program held their annual Art Exhibit and the High School held their first Art Exhibit here.
Young Artist winners were Veronica Wright on the flute, Melissa Phillips on the oboe and Chavisa Woods in Voice. All were featured with the Orchestra concert held that year at K.C. The Orchestra also did a Fall concert which featured the Marionettes and performed in the Christmas concert and the Taste of Freedom concert.
Scholarship winners in 1998 were Chris Wilson, Eric Williams, Shelley Mulvaney-Norris, and Loren Wilson.
Jane Pacey attended the first Leadership School sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. The Society received the much coveted Madonna club award in 1998.
In 1999, through a Special Assistance Grant from the Illinois Arts Council, the Website was designed. A Policy Manual was also developed and adopted. Both have been great additions to the governance and marketing of the Society. An artist in Residency grant was received and a grant was written for two interns for the summer. Jamie Lynn Lashbrook and Dayna Jones were interns that year (the very first) and Patricia Hruby Powell was the artist in residence.
Jerry Piper was President again this year and was able to get corporate sponsors to back the Fall Art Show, whch made it bigger and better, to increase the attendance and the membership of the Palette & Brush Club and to hold more exhibits at other places. A Marketing Seminar was held on Sept. 11 for the board and we learned many things from experts about marketing. We purchased at this time some signs to be used on the highways to promote visibility for the Community Arts Center. We started talking about changing the name at this time. Members of the board attended the Rend Lake Arts Conference and came back with some ideas for the Cultural Society.
The Little Theatre Group did “Bus Stop” directed by Viki Oliver, “Goldilocks” directed by Cindy Jones, “Tommy” with director Byrom Marlow, “Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” directed by Viki Oliver, and “Just Desserts”, directed by Cindy Jones.
The Choral Society did a USO show, which drew big crowds, directed by Steve & Marge Kasten. The Orchestra did a Fall concert, the Winter Pops featuring Jean Kittrell and the Rivermen, and the Taste of Freedom concert, along with the annual Christmas Concert.
Special events included a string recital, a drama workshop, Trivia Night, and the Okaw Valley show in February. St. Mary’s play that year was “Rapunzel”. Playful Harmonies was a program held for pre-school children in music. It met weekly for more than two years.
Major donations were received this year from Faye Wham and the Albright family. Major repairs done that year included having the roof painted, the gutters repaired, and pouring a concrete pad for the dumpster. Twenty-five new chairs were purchased which made an even 200 chairs and six wireless microphones were purchased to use in Tommy.
Scholarship Recipients that year were Whitney Elmore, Loren Wilson, Chris Wilson, and Renee Brubaker.

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