April 22, 2015 by Tammy Pearson
From a diverse offering of artistic and cultural events to a substantial economic impact, the Warren Cultural Center’s third year of accomplishments was celebrated Saturday at the Center’s third anniversary gala.
But regardless of the Center’s continued success, the message at the gala was that the community’s support — in ticket sales and donations — is vital to its future.
To put the Center’s accomplishments “in a bigger perspective,” Executive Director Ken Sidey said, “I firmly believe the restoration (of the opera house) is one of the two most significant developments in Greenfield in my lifetime,” with the other being the opening of the Cardinal plant.
“The most recent evidence” of the Warren Cultural Center’s impact are the 20 stage performances and over 40 events, including weddings, receptions, meetings, dances and more, that have brought roughly 3,000 people “through this building” in the last year, said Sidey.
“To get a full picture of what the Warren Cultural Center means, you have to look outside of these walls,” said Sidey. When the Center has a show, one can see all the cars around the square, the customers at the restaurants, businesses and hotel and added traffic to the Country Life Center, he said.
In addition, artists and performers do workshops for students at the schools. “The impact reaches beyond these walls,” said Sidey.
“After three years, we are just beginning to see the full impact on quality of life and economic development,” said Sidey.
Donations are always needed, said Sidey. Historic theaters across the country, big and small, “all have one thing in common — they all need support to carry out their mission of bringing art and culture to their communities,” he said. “We can’t sell enough tickets to do all we do.”
Sidey encouraged the public to come to shows. “There are no bad shows here. I can honestly say we have no bad shows here.”
“We have tremendous talent that comes here,” said E.E. Warren Opera House Association Treasurer Phil Cannon.
“Your expectations are going to be exceeded. You have to get out of your homes and see the shows. Bring friends. We need to be filling this place. Once we get them here, they will come back. But we need to get them here,” he said.
However, “even if we fill this place every time, we still need donations,” said Cannon. Since Jan. 1, board members have put in over $12,000 for the operation of the WCC, he said. “The board is willing to make sacrifices” but asks the public to help.
“We hope you believe in this project, in the whole community. We need the help, plain and simple,” said Cannon.
The upcoming year promises another slate of top acts. Confirmed so far for the Premier Series are Richie Lee and the Fabulous 50s – Buddy Holly tribute; Shy of a Dozen – men’s a cappella group from ISU; The Baby Boomer Comedy Show – clean comedy for people born before seat belts; and Sweet Dreams and Honky Tonks – the music of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn.
The Iowa Series will include the University of Iowa classical string ensembles; Bob Dorr and the Blue Band; Chad Elliott – singer/songwriter and artist; “Map of My Kingdom” play by Iowa Poet Laureate Mary Swander; Central College a cappella choir and more.
Other favorite events include Joseph Hall’s Elvis tribute, Cumberland Rose Players, New Year’s Eve party, ACT IV local talent show, art classes and more.
“Help us make this next season the most successful yet,” said Sidey.
In his welcome, Cannon recognized U.S. Congressman David Young, who was in attendance; the Wallace Centers of Iowa Country Life Center for catering the meal; Nodaway Valley Champions 4-H Club for serving the meal; and Carol Woosley for table and other decorations. He also recognized Executive Director Ken Sidey for his work and (Board President) Nancy Queck for all the work “she puts in behind the scenes.”
Board members of the E.E. Warren Opera House Association are Nancy Queck - president, Bill Yount - vice president, Phil Cannon - treasurer, Dan Dickinson - secretary, Michelle Carns, Olivia Espinosa, Marty Fisher, Craig Plymesser, and Leon Schwartz.
The re-birth of the Warren Cultural Center — captured in photos, most by Dan Dickinson — were shared with attendees through a slideshow.
The transformation of the opera house, inside and out, was chronicled, along with the years of dedication of many of the Center’s long-time supporters.
From bands to dances, marionettes, storytelling, talent shows, Valentine ’s Day events, art shows, plays and much more, the events that have graced the Center’s theater were recalled through photos.
Courtesy of Tammy Pearson, Adair County Free Press, 4/22/15.