Lake City Arts Celebrates 25 Years

A sold-out gala to be attended by 72 individuals next Friday, June 29, highlights a quarter century of success by Lake City Arts and its predecessor, Lake City Arts Council.
Sharing in the spotlight at the 25th anniversary party next week will be a reunion of original members of the Magic Cabaret troupe which performed at what was then the Black Crooke Theater from 1995 through 2005, special performances by the Lakette Dancers, and David Palmer performing a piano selection on Lake City Arts’ concert grand piano.
“Crazy” and “Two Cigarettes & An Ashtray” from the 2004 and 2009 productions of “Always, Patsy Cline” will be performed by Julie Rothschild, Leo Jo Lowry, and Doug Steele.
Phil Virden will serve as MC next at Friday’s arts council gala, and reminiscent remarks on early arts council events in Lake City will be made by Denver resident John Parker. Parker and his wife, Ann, were owners of the Hough Block building which is today headquarters for Lake City Arts’ Moseley Arts Center, the Mary Stigall Theater, and Anthony Gallery.
Amy Stigall Hindman, daughter of late Lake City Arts’ founder Mary Stigall, is also planning to attend the celebration from her home in Hay Springs, Nebraska, as are also arts council supporters Jim and Jane Anthony for whom the Anthony Gallery is named.
The Friday evening dinner, which sold out as of Monday this week, begins at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails in the courtyard, followed by a roast chicken dinner, entertainment in Mary Stigall Theater at 7:30 p.m., and concluding with champagne and desserts in Anthony Gallery.
Lake City Lakettes under direction of Linny Ramundo will perform “Clap Your Hands” and “Your Love Keeps Lifting Me” dating back to summer performances between 2007 and 2014. Dancers taking part in the two dance numbers will be Ramundo and Yolie Brown, Kay Barber, Julie Rothschild, Amy Humphreys, Josha Smith, Carol Robinson, Belinda Gianola, Irene Pate, and Mary Jacobs.
Reunion and performance of original members of the Magic Cabaret cast promises to be a lively affair with many original members of the singing and dancing cast arriving here especially for the reunion from out-of-town.
“Steppin’ Out on Broadway” and “The Way We Were” will be performed, together with a slide show of past memorable performances by the Magic Cabaret members.
In Lake City for the anniversary celebration and taking part in the performance will be Claire Jessee, Lloyd Lebow, Sally Thode, Jerry and Laura Sharpe, Durell Thompson, Don Farmer, Janet Potter, Ed and Mary Nettleton, Warner Dewey, Gail Frick, Julie Rothschild, and Thom and Jan Trumble.
Although next week’s 25th anniversary celebration is keyed to 1993 when articles of incorporation for Lake City Arts Council were formally filed, the creation of the arts council actually dates to December, 1991-92, when Mary Stigall chaired an organizational meeting attended by 35 individuals.
The unanimous decision to create a new Lake City Arts Council followed an earlier arts organization in the late 1970s and early 80s which had as its primary focus the Lake City Chamber Music Festival headed by conductor Michael Palmer.
According to a chronology of the arts council’s development as compiled by Peggy Bales from newspaper articles — together with play programs and other ephemera — a key element to Lake City Arts’ early success was an assured, annual funding base.
At its creation in March, 1992, it was declared that Lake City was not, indeed, a culturally-deprived community but rather that creation of an arts organization would augment the community and “improve the local cultural arts scene, making it more consistent.”
Chaperoned by Stigall, and with Bob Paulmenn as vice president, Carolyn Virden and Sandy Thompson respectively treasurer and secretary, Lake City Arts Council took over sponsorship of the annual Arts & Crafts Festival from Hinsdale County Chamber of Commerce starting in 1992.
Lake City Arts leased performance space in John Parker’s Black Crooke Theater in the Hough Block starting in 1993, early stage productions including Carolyn Lee’s historic pageant, “Beyond All Measure,” which was co-directed by Lee and Stigall in 1993.
An impressive succession of theatricals and musical programs followed, including the locally-written “Echoes from the Boardwalk” in 1995 and, also in 1995, the start of a multi-year run for the popular song and dance “Magic Cabaret,” which was first directed by Lloyd Lebow.
In addition to drama, central focus for arts council members also extended to music, media, public art and visual arts, as well as introducing younger members of the community to humanities with a variety of collaborative ventures.
After briefly considering building a new arts center on donated land at Pete’s Lake, the arts council concluded to return to its old home in the Hough Block and in December, 2005, agreed to purchase the historic downtown structure from John and Ann Parker for $400,000, a significant reduction from the structure’s appraised $858,000 value.
Lake City Arts Council was formally rechristened Lake City Arts in 2009. Mary Stigall served on the organization’s board of directors from its founding in 1992 until 2007 and was Lake City Arts’ president for eight years. Lake City Arts presidents subsequent to Stigall have been John Smith, Warner Dewey, Ed Campbell and its current president, Dan Wampler.
Fundraising for the building’s purchase and renovations included two State Historic Fund grants, as well as significant private donations. The art center complex was named in recognition of patrons Jack and Kathy Moseley, with the Anthony Gallery named in recognition of long-time art supporters Jim and Jane Anthony. Following a $670,000 renovation, the 93-seat Mary Stigall Theater was formally dedicated in July, 2009.