- First published on 29 June 2015 Posted in District News
By: Mr. Russ Rautmann, Director of The Engler Center for the Performing Arts
"We could maybe survive without the arts, but I don't think we'd be human beings without it" - Opera Singer, Denyce Graves.
The School District of Chilton has a strong history and established tradition of growing its Fine Arts programming, for not only its students, but also for the Chilton community.
From The Beginning:
As we look back at the 1934 performing arts spaces in the former Chilton High School (CHS) building, we found a stage that was shared with physical education, wrestling and other general uses. This is the same space where the annual play was performed on a shallow stage. The audience, 150 strong, sat on a flat floor in folding chairs. The estimated attendance for these plays totaled 450 annually. Choir and band concerts were performed in a hot and noisy gymnasium with the audience seated on wooden bleachers. Despite these conditions, the students of CHS were able to experience the benefits of the performing arts first-hand.
Now let's jump ahead to the start of the 2003/2004 school year. This school year marked the beginning of a new era in the performing arts for the Chilton Public Schools, and the Community of Chilton. This was the opening of the state-of-the-art performing arts center, The Engler Center for the Performing Arts (ECPA). The ECPA was made possible by the generosity of the William and Michael Engler families. In the first performing arts season, we welcomed a full house for the ECPA grand opening. The high school produced, Bye Bye Birdie, and the Calumet County Community Theatre produced, The Music Man. The choirs and bands performed on this grand stage with pride surrounded by a state of the art acoustic diva shell. Our attendance numbers were approximately 2,600 for the year. With time comes progress, and to quote the movie, Field Of Dreams, "If you build it they will come," and they did come. Over the next twelve years with a supportive Board of Education, staff, parents, and community, we've seen an average annual growth of 13 percent in attendance.
In the 2014/2015 season, the ECPA has seen another record year. Attendance numbers totaled over 10,000 for events requiring tickets. Our free events, such as band and choir concerts, had standing room only. Over the past year, the ECPA has hosted several educational events for students and the community. We have hosted numerous fundraising concerts and events for school groups and local non-profit organizations. The four musical and two non-musical productions that are performed annually on our stage are designed to boost the confidence levels of our students and community performers by encouraging them to speak and perform in front of others. Through these performances, students and community members have had the opportunity to gain an understanding of the value of the performing arts. The love for the arts and the theater has grown throughout the years, and has enriched the lives of our students and community members. One of our main goals at the Engler Center for the Performing Arts is to teach everyone that enters our doors a little something about the performing arts, and to bring people from our community together to enjoy some of the finest family entertainment in the area!
The Arts Are Alive At CPS!