You may have heard that the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation is making plans to add on to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert. You would be correct. Now in our 12th year of operation, we have literally outgrown our building, or at least our programming has outgrown our building.

We certainly have one of the most beautiful facilities in the area; at least that’s what we keep hearing from our visiting patrons and performers. We also hear from more and more of our performers that more space and amenities would sure be nice. The upcoming season will have 13 of our 26 events that will challenge us with dressing room and storage space. Six of those will probably require laundry facilities.

We have been able to pull off shows like some of these in the past by requesting educational facility space and strategically scheduling load-in dates and times. It has not always been beneficial for us, school personnel and the students, but everyone has tried to be as cooperative as possible. We at the Niswonger have certainly appreciated everyone’s cooperation.

We now, though, have an opportunity to address these challenges and make it a win-win situation for the performers, the school teachers and their students, and we, the presenter. A gift of $100,000 was set aside a couple years ago with this possibility in mind. We then were graced with a $200,000 state facility grant and we began making plans to remedy our situation.

Working with a local architect firm, we had plans drawn up to expand our backstage facilities. We are extremely fortunate to have the perfect space to add onto the south side of the facility. With the Van Wert City Schools owning the land and building, we requested permission to raise funds and pay for the annex on our own. The school board granted permission, knowing that the school could also benefit from this annex, but yet not have to invest tax dollars into the addition. With their permission, we are moving forward with plans.

Those plans are outlined in a brochure we have printed and available for people to look at. We are also planning an official campaign kick-off event on Aug. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. We are extremely pleased to announce that we already have $67,100 raised in addition to the $300,000 we started with. We would like to invite anyone who would like to learn more about this project to our Aug. 13 kick-off. Just call 419-238-6722, stop by Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or email the box office at BOXOFFICE@NPACVW.ORG with your RSVP. We will be serving heavy hors d’oeuvres and would like a count of how many will be attending.

You will learn and see plans of why we are doing what we are, and how you might be able to help. Any donation will be very much appreciated. In 2005, we started raising funds for a performing arts center on a dream that “if we build it, they will come!” Well, this has certainly been the case. Since that initial campaign, we have worked very hard and diligently and have been blessed with much success. We have 18,000 believers that we didn’t have in 2005. I am confident we can position the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio safely into the future for success with this addition.

I hope to see you at the Niswonger on Aug. 13 at 6:30 p.m. We will have a good time sharing the exciting news with you and answering any questions you may have. We are motivated to make this happen, not only because we don’t want to lose the opportunity to receive the $200,000 state grant, but also because we feel the need is so important as we move into the future.

The new season is selling real well. Under the Streetlamp is technically sold out and fewer than 150 tickets remain for our season opener with Trace Adkins on Sept. 9. Get your tickets now while you can bundle and save. You can also get the best selection of seats right now!

This Friday night in Fountain Park, the Van Wert Area Concert Band under the direction of Richard Sherrick will be in concert. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy this concert of exciting band music, including an original piece by local composer and Ohio State music student, Scott Turner. The following Friday night, get ready for the best Elton John Tribute in the country, “Remember When Rock was Young” featuring Craig A. Meyer and the Rocket Band. This is our Fountain Park finale and will be a great way to finish up in Fountain Park!