On Feb. 11, 2018, a dedication ceremony, was held for the Westby Area Community Performing Arts Center (WAPAC) and for the Fine Arts Foundation of the Westby Area (FAFWA) committee members it was the highlight of the year.

Linda Dowling, President of the Fine Arts Foundation said it was a day of excitement, huge smiles and jubilation as the Westby Area Community Performing Arts Center (WAPAC) became a visual and physical reality thanks to the support of the school board, the administration, alumni and the communities of Westby, Coon Valley and Chaseburg.

With the WAPAC a reality, what becomes of the FAFWA organization now?

“Our work is far from over, Dowling said, “We are remaining a very active organization and continue in our support of all the arts in the area.”

No major events were scheduled in the WAPAC facility in June, but FAFWA has scheduled a couple of key upcoming concerts and is always silently working to complete more finishing touches to the building and beyond.

The FAFWA committee is currently awaiting word on two grants that were recently submitted for additional needs in the WAPAC facility and continuing its fundraising efforts for the Yamaha Grand Piano ($46,000), which the Marck Family Foundation donated $25,000 towards the purchase of earlier with a challenge put out to FAFWA, and the local communities, to raise the additional funds needed to cover the remaining costs of the piano ($24,000).

“We are getting closer to reaching this goal and welcome any donations that may be directed toward this beautiful piano,” Dowling said.

On Sept. 5, Dave Marck, a jazz pianist who resides and performs in New York City, will grace the WAPAC stage. The Marck family has a soft spot in their hearts for Westby where his beloved mother, Jean (Theige) Marck, was also a Westby alum. Now deceased, Dowling said Jean would have relished in the thought of her son performing in the WAPAC facility in Westby.

“David and his back up musicians are so talented and very entertaining. It’s a concert you shouldn’t miss,” Dowling said.

FAFWA has scheduled another outstanding concert at the WAPAC on Saturday, July 21 at 7 p.m. featuring the remarkable talents of a couple of Westby Alum. Jess Salek and Beth (Ekern) Lakmann held a “One Voice” concert three years ago at Westby Coon Prairie Church before the new building was constructed. Tickets and more information about the concert will soon be available.

“Jess and Beth are busy preparing for a return concert and are very excited to appear in Westby on July 21. They both began their music careers here in Westby and love giving back to the community,” Dowling said.

FAFWA has established an usher team that were very busy last month greeting and seating at 13 scheduled events in new fine arts building. FAFWA members and volunteer ushers are easily recognizable in their black vests with a rosemaled design identifying the wearer as an usher. Dowling said there are usually a minimum of six ushers required for each concert or WAPAC performance.

“We would love to have more volunteers—please feel welcome to join the team led by Kris Strand and Cindy Brown. There will be an usher training session held by Kory Dahlen later on this summer,” Dowling said.

Not yet completed, but in the final stages, is the donor recognition board located just outside the entrance to the WAPAC.

Sarah Glover Pederson (Lucid Painting) was commissioned to create a design that listed all the amazing donors for the 100 Extraordinary Women fundraiser that was held approximately two years ago. She also designed a mural leading into the Women’s dressing room area honoring the late Carmen Armbruster.

Pederson designed a scroll that appears to weave in and out of the wall as it heads down a hallway. The back side of the scroll is a staff of musical notes from the Westby school song. As the staff leads down the hallway, it breaks apart into its own performance of the arts including painting, theatre and dance. She completed her portion of the visual project in April.

Pederson, also a Westby alum, said she was so grateful that FAFWA selected her to design and paint the mural.

“As a graduate of Westby, I never would have dreamed back then that I would someday paint such a significant mural on our school walls. It was rewarding to honor Carmen Armbruster in a beautiful, timeless way, knowing how much it meant to her husband, sons, family and friends. It was also quite rewarding to see reactions of students and staff while I painted. Some visited me almost daily to watch it transform and that still puts a smile on my face,” Pederson said.

Karen Hankee and Christopher Anderson were also commissioned to work on the donor recognition project. Within the next month, Karen Hankee (background board and lettering) and Christopher Anderson (engraving) will complete the project leaving their lasting touches in the WAPAC facility.

“These artists all have ties to Westby, and do amazing work. We were so fortunate to have them share her talents with us as we recognize so many people who have made a difference,” Dowling said.

FAFWA is also working with representatives of the Wisconsin Arts Board and Westby schools to develop a visual arts display area to showcase the artistic talents of local students and others in the community.

Join FAFWA on Thursday, June 28 from 5-7 p.m. as they host “Burgers in the Park” with entertainment by Whisky Chicken, a musical group led by Ted Parrish of Parrish Music Store in Viroqua.

“Without the community none of this would have been possible. We are grateful beyond words for everything that everyone has already done to make the WAPAC facility a reality,” Dowling said.

The long term goal of FAFWA is to establish and maintain an endowment fund for maintenance or other needs of the WAPAC facility. Please continue to watch for information of the planned concerts and events in the upcoming months.

If you would like more information contact Linda Dowling, President of the Fine Arts Foundation at 625-2453. Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 8, Westby, WI, 54667.

***Dorothy Robson can be reached at dorothy.robson@lee.net or (608) 606-0811.

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Westby Times editor

Dorothy Robson is editor of the Westby Times. Contact her at 608-637-5625.

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