Clear Creek Performing Arts Center
The Iowa One Cent Sales Tax (SILO) Educational Fund provided a funding opportunity for a new Performing Arts Center for the district. A new high school, opened in 2009, had planned space for a Performing Arts Center, but the district’s bonding capacity had not been able to fund it. The school board and the district’s constituents, through a “Revenue Purpose Statement” vote, agreed that the Performing Arts Center should be one of the projects funded by the new source. They felt it would enhance and help grow the drama, vocal and instrumental programs. But first, and foremost, they saw it as another educational venue, adding to their multiple means for delivering and diversifying curriculum. Their vision meant the facility would need to accommodate everything from a writing class’ final presentation to a full blown production of The Wizard of Oz.
The first step in the process was to develop a questionnaire that was distributed to all district staff, students, parents and a number of community members asking them for their goals and vision for the facility. Responses were analyzed and used as the basis for the Program of Requirements for design. An 800-seat house was felt to be adequate for most performances and could accommodate at least half the student population for assemblies and guest lecturers. The 3,200 square foot stage can accommodate small traveling Broadway productions and the 400-square-foot thrust stage in front of the curtain allows the facility to be used for educational purposes even when the stage behind is set up for one of many productions.
Other amenities include an orchestra pit for up to 25 musicians, a 60-foot-tall fly-tower for scene drops, a make-up/green room with wardrobe storage and changing rooms, and a 1,700-square-foot scene shop where students can learn to design and construct theater sets. Unique to the design is the acoustically transparent vertical extension of the proscenium opening. Visually the opening is 18 feet high—optimal for theater productions—but acoustically the opening is 27 feet, more conducive to musical events.
Outfitted with state-of-the-art audio, video and lighting systems, the key was to make the systems simple to operate so that virtually anyone could use the facility. At each entrance to the house and on the stage a user can select from five pre-set lighting options that accommodate approximately 95% of the events in the space. From multiple locations on the stage the A/V systems can be accessed and controlled by plugging in a laptop. The simplicity of the controls and multiple access points offers many options on how the facility can be set up and used.
Arguably one of the finest high school facilities in Iowa, the state-of-the-art venue supports a multitude of educational and performance uses for the entire district and for the five communities it encompasses. But it’s more than just a venue; it is also a teaching tool, providing hands on experience with state-of-the-art technologies to design and produce events. As was hoped when conceived, the facility has inspired students, staff and the community to “get involved.” Whether it’s in the spotlight or behind the scene, people want to be part of what’s happening on stage!
25,000-square-foot building expansion