FirstEnergy: The performing arts find a new home at Garrett College

As executive director of the Garrett Lakes Arts Festival in Garrett County, Mary Callis has had to improvise over the years to organize events in the only county in Maryland without a performing arts center. To host a symphony concert, for example, Callis had to remodel a ski lodge at the Wisp Resort, renting a stage, lighting and piano for the event.

“It was a real production,” she says. “My challenge has always been to transform places into something they were never meant to be.”

The ski lodge symphonies will come to an end when the region celebrates the opening of the Performing Arts Center (PAC) at Garrett College, a $21 million renovation and expansion project that will transform a former community college gymnasium into 400 seats. , state-of-the-art theater. Located in the Potomac Edison service area, the new facility will also include a piano lab, offices, art gallery, catering kitchen and a 2,000 square foot multipurpose space that can be used for classrooms , lectures, recitals and more.

“It’s a dream come true,” says Callis, who was named executive director of PAC in 2019 in addition to her role overseeing the Garrett Lakes Arts Festival, which is the largest performing arts presenter and county arts education. “We’ve never had anything like it.”

PAC was made possible with more than $16 million in state funding and $4.2 million in county funding. Decades in the making, the project took a big leap forward in 2018 when Governor Larry Hogan allocated state funding for the project at the request of county, college and state lawmakers in the area.

Late last year, the Garrett College Foundation launched a campaign to create a $2.5 million endowment to support PAC operations, and more than $2.4 million has been raised as a result. day. The FirstEnergy Foundation made two donations to the campaign, including a $10,000 gift to name one of PAC’s new offices and another $10,000 gift to name its lighting and sound room. The FirstEnergy Foundation is also a long-time supporter of the Great Lakes Arts Festival.

Although the facility is located on the campus of Garrett College, it will be shared by the Great Lakes Arts Festival, Garrett County Public Schools, Garrett County Arts Council and Garrett County Government. The college will operate the facilities on behalf of the various partners and plans to use the classrooms for classes, workshops and training programs that meet the continuing education and workforce development needs of the community. local business. The 200-seat multipurpose space, which can be divided into three separate rooms, will also allow the college to host meetings and conferences that it previously could not.

“This is an incredible facility for a community college of our size,” said Dr. Richard Midcap, president of Garrett College. “Having the infrastructure, both physical and administrative, to help set up this collaboration was key.”

The PAC opened in 2020 and is expected to open this summer.

“The Performing Arts Center at Garrett College is a cultural and educational asset that will benefit the region for years to come,” said Lorna Wisham, president of the FirstEnergy Foundation. “FirstEnergy is committed to strengthening the communities where we live and work, and we are proud to support this exciting new facility.”

Garrett College, located in the mountains of western Maryland, is an affordable, accredited two-year public community college. Garrett College offers associate degrees for transfer or career advancement, credit certificates in specialized fields, and an array of non-credit continuing education and workforce training programs. Serving both traditional-age students and mature students, Garrett College is renowned for its small class sizes and personalized attention.

The FirstEnergy Foundation is funded solely by FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) and provides support to nonprofit, tax-exempt health and social service organizations; educational organizations; cultural and artistic programs and institutions; and civic groups in areas served by FirstEnergy’s 10 electricity operating companies and in areas where the company does business.

CONTACT: Will Boye, (301) 790-6420