It’s been more than a year in the making, and on Friday, the Ottawa High School Performing Arts Center will be formally unveiled to the community during a special ribbon-cutting ceremony.
For USD 290 Superintendent Dr. Ryan Cobbs, the event is a celebration, marking the completion of improvements throughout the school district. The PAC is the final piece of a $63.2 million bond issue the district started a few years ago. In April 2015, local voters agreed to finance the multi-phase project by voting in favor of the bond issue. Among the improvements were district-wide safety and security upgrades, mechanical and electrical system updates, a new elementary school, new science and career and technical education wings at OHS, a new performing arts center as well as additional cafeteria space and bathrooms for athletic events.
The district broke ground on the performing arts center project in May 2018.
“I think we’re super-excited, and we’re celebrating this process,” Cobbs said. “I think we’re also very appreciative of what this community is providing us, and the ribbon-cutting is the culmination of all that work.”
USD 290 School Board members toured the PAC during a special meeting in July. At that time, they found a skeleton. In late-October, board members revisited the facility, which was nearly completed.
The new performing arts center includes a sizable auditorium, stage and multi-level theater seating along with an orchestra pit, which is hidden from view. Besides a dock on the rear of the building, the backstage area features costume/prop storage, men’s and women’s dressing rooms and make-up areas. The lobby area, located on the east side of the building, will feature men’s and women’s restrooms.
Friday’s event begins at 2:30 p.m. with a short ceremony in the PAC lobby. At 2:45 p.m., a series of performances will take place in the PAC, including presentations by the OHS drama group, the school’s jazz band and choir. At 3:45 p.m., a special screening of the high school choir’s Carnegie Hall performance will be available for visitors to watch.
“We want people to feel free to come in and walk through as these performances are taking place,” he said. “We want people to see and experience the power of the venue, and feel like they can come and go as they please without feeling like they have to sit there for 45 minutes.”
Friday’s event is open to the public, and visitors can enter the PAC through the lobby. No office check-in is required.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to celebrate as a community,” Cobbs said. “And to see the power and impact a facility like this will have on students for the next 50 years.”