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Free monthly tours to showcase JPAC

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Shelly Birkelo
Sunday, August 19, 2012

— The Janesville Performing Arts Center soon will be 10 years old. Still, many local residents don't know it exists or understand what it's even really about.

"We're young, but there's going to be lots of new things happening here," said Elizabeth Isenberg, executive director at JPAC.

To create awareness, the facility is starting a free monthly tour program it's calling "JPAC Behind the Scenes."

Starting at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 4 and continuing the first Tuesday of every month through May 2013, the docent-led tour will offer an inside look at the performing art center's theater, dressing rooms and other renovated spaces of the historic former Janesville High School.

JPAC used to host a free monthly noon lecture series called "JPAC Your Lunch" to help gain exposure, show off the theatre and highlight events. However, attendance was spotty, Isenberg said.

"You'd get two to 50 people," she said.

By establishing the new tours, Isenberg said JPAC could show off its historic building and give people an idea of what goes on behind the scenes.

"I don't think people realize how much work, time and money it takes," to operate a performing arts center, she said.

The tours also will allow visitors to see unused space that hasn't been renovated, Isenberg said.

"We have plans to show them our empty spaces to get people thinking about what this building could be," she said.

Without showing the public what the center's needs are, Isenberg said it would be tough for JPAC officials to ask for community help in replacing old theater equipment or renovating the building's cafeteria. Getting people in the door and educating them about who JPAC is and what is has to offer could accomplish that, she said.

"By bringing people in, they might pick up some brochures, take them home and see what's going on," Isenberg said.

Tour highlights include a close-up view of the restored theater, learning about the history of the building and obtaining information about the 15 arts groups affiliated with the center.

"We'll also share some ghost stories, explain how classrooms were turned into apartments and how the building was adapted and reused," Isenberg said. "It's about educating what we do and why. I want people to know what's happening within these walls to avoid confusion.

"The tours provide an opportunity for JPAC to show off its historic building, its needs and get people in the doors."

Last updated: 5:07 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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