In 2004 Craig High School senior Nathan Burkart wrote to the Janesville Gazette in support of a local performing arts organization. The Janesville Performing Arts Center (JPAC) opened later that year as a result of efforts from residents like Burkart. Today JPAC serves 30,000 community members annually through grassroots, youth-oriented dramatic arts programming.
Burkart, who is now the organization’s executive director, identifies JPAC’s exponential growth as a driving factor necessitating its expansion. JPAC needed a separate space dedicated to performing arts education. “The Education and Outreach Department has been growing at JPAC since it was put in place five years ago,” said Burkart. “When planning for the future it was important to the Board and JPAC staff to have a permanent structure like this in place. That way it is embedded into JPAC’s framework for years to come.”
The Education and Outreach Department has been growing at JPAC
The education center is part of a slew of initiatives to enrich the JPAC and the greater Janesville region. JPAC functions as a pillar of Janesville ARISE, a public-private partnership which aims to re-vitalize the city’s downtown.
“I am very excited about the opening of the Hendricks Education Center at JPAC,” said Hendricks Family Foundation board member Konya Schuh. “JPAC is a strong and worthy organization. The arts add so much value to our community. The momentum behind ARISE is growing and the Hendricks Family Foundation is pleased to be able to contribute in this way.”
The center is scheduled to open in early August. “The education center will fulfill a real need,” said Burkart. “The day it opens it will immediately become our most used program space.”
The first program to run in the education center is the annual JPAC Kids’ Summer Camp. This year over sixty local third-12th grade students will learn acting fundamentals in preparation for a performance of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, Jr.
I am very excited about the opening of the Hendricks Education Center at JPAC
The experiences garnered and skills developed at the camp–and at JPAC as a whole–extend beyond the stage. The organization works to foster valuable life skills like self-expression and self-confidence. “The directors get us to do amazing things which I didn’t think we could,” said camper Ella Spies. “My experience at JPAC helps me at my school performances. JPAC is a comfortable place to be my silly self.”
Fellow camper Jimmy Hodge spoke to the inclusive, interpersonal nature of JPAC programming. “We are a team together that welcomes everyone and anyone,” he said. “JPAC is the highlight of my summer.”
The camp production will run August 8, 9, and 10 at 7:00 p.m. and August 11 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available to the public on JPAC’s website.