JPAC plans birthday bash on Saturday
If you go
What: Janesville Performing Arts Center fifth anniversary party with American English, the Beatles tribute band.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Cost: Tickets for the Saturday show are $35 and $200. The $35 tickets include a show and the post-show party. The $200 tickets include a pre-show cocktail party, the show and the post-show party.
Tickets for the Sunday show are $10.
Where: Janesville Performing Arts Center, 408 S. Main St., Janesville.
For more information: Call (608) 758-0297 or go to www.gazlo.com and put "Janesville Performing Arts Center" in the search box.
By the numbers
Kids who have participated in arts education programming at JPAC or in their schools.
Amount the city of Janesville gave to match an anonymous donor's gift of $1 million.
Number of groups that call JPAC home, including resident arts groups and a handful of non-profits who produce arts events as fundraisers.
JANESVILLE Five years in the black.
Five years with no serious crises—expect for the time when part of the roof blew off.
Five years, 451 events and 127,191 audience members.
This weekend, the Janesville Performing Arts Center will celebrate its fifth anniversary with two performances by American English, the popular Beatles tribute band.
In the past, gala anniversary events featured performers such as Donny Osmond and Mary Wilson of the Supremes. This year, JPAC's board wanted to provide people with a show that would appeal to—and be affordable for—the greatest number of people.
Emily Gruenewald, JPAC executive director, said the center has a lot to celebrate.
"JPAC is in a really good place," said Gruenewald.
The center has been in the black for the past five years. In addition, when the city matched $1 million in tax dollars to an anonymous donation, it required the center to keep $100,000 in cash reserves for five years.
The center has met that goal and has built up additional reserves.
Revenues from the first four years ranged from $171,554 to $188,803, while expenses ranged from $151,308 to $229,287
The most striking change was from 2007 to 2008, when expenses went up nearly $78,000 for a total of $229,287. The additional expenses were due to a new marquee sign, repair for flood and roof damages and wages. For part of 2008, Gruenewald and the former executive director overlapped during a transition period.
Despite the additional expenses, the center didn't need to borrow money or use the city's required reserve fund.
In the 2008-09 season that ended Aug. 31, a total of 23,488 people came through the center's doors for events, an 11 percent increase over the previous season. It was the second-highest total since the opening year.
Part of the reason is the number of productions.
"We usually have a fairly dark summer," Gruenewald said. "But this year there was a fundraising event and a production of "West Side Story."
Another reason for the attendance increase?
Local arts presenters who use the center are beginning to find their niches.
"I have to credit the arts groups, as well," Gruenewald said. "They've been successful at picking shows."
SpotLight on Kids "Cinderella" had a wildly successful run, as did "West Side Story."
Janet LaBrie, president of the SpotLight on Kids board, said her organization likes the professionalism it finds at JPAC.
SpotLight's 2008 production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" did even better that "Cinderella" and was considered the JPAC hit of the year.
"Although we were initially concerned about the cost of producing there—it's very expensive—it's a wonderful theater that people like to come to," LaBrie said. "The staff is wonderfully supportive. They're just as excited about our productions as we are."
It costs $1,000 a week to rent the center, and that includes everything. Many arts centers have a lower base cost but then charge additional fees for the use of lights, clean up, risers and other items.
During a one-week rental at JPAC, organizations can put on as many shows as they like.
A single-day rental is $350.
"Based on my experience producing shows in Madison, the rates here are very reasonable," Gruenewald said.
Rent at local high school performing arts centers might be cheaper, but tax dollars support the upkeep of those buildings—heat, lights, repairs and staff.
Most local arts organizations aren't going elsewhere. For four of JPAC's five seasons, the number of events has ranged from 92 to 100.
For the current 2009-10 season, 104 events are booked at JPAC.
This year, the Beloit Janesville Symphony decided not to perform at JPAC, but the center picked up several new events, including a gospel festival.
Gruenewald took over as executive director last November from Laurel Canan, who had guided the center through the final stages of its construction, the grand opening and its first four years.
But it's Gruenewald who will have to see the center through the changes in Janesville's economy.
"Right now, we're looking at visioning; we're at our dreaming point," Gruenewald said. "We're asking, 'What does our community need from us, what do they want from us?'"
Gruenewald and the JPAC board share a common view: The performing arts are for everyone.
Even during difficult economic times, the arts are a crucial part of the city's mix of opportunities.
"When times are tough, your soul still needs to eat," Gruenewald said.