Westby dedicates performing arts center after 16 years of waitin - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Westby dedicates performing arts center after 16 years of waiting

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Westby, WI (WXOW) - -

After 16 years of waiting the city of Westby dedicates its new performing arts center on February 11.

In 2002 plans for the new Westby middle school initially featured a performing arts center but due to the city's urgent need for a new middle school at the time plans were postponed.

"So that really began about a 15-year history of the future includes a performing arts center," says Westby School Board President Gerry Roethel.

After learning of the delay a group of Westby citizens raised $800,000 for the center, inspiring a 2016 referendum to add the fine arts center to the middle school.

Roethel continues, "It overwhelmingly passed, and that essentially began the formal process of designing and building and today dedicating this great facility."

After the 2016 referendum community members started to look at the current arts facility, trying to improve upon their previous set-up.

Westby Band Director Kory Dahlen describes his experience with the previous facility, "I am actually even an alumni from here and when I was in school we talked about someday hopefully having a performing arts center, we've always performed in a gymnasium."

When building the facility officials kept the students in mind, creating an environment more suitable for them to perform.

Westby Band and Choir member Evan Phillips elaborates on his time performing, and how the new center will affect future performances, "We always kind of felt constraint in that space and that we couldn't do as much, but now with this, it's a much bigger stage, nicer area."

The new facility provides all of Westby with the opportunity to learn more about every aspect of the fine arts.

Dahlen explains, "We have a lot of great tools in there now that we can use to teach our kids not only how to perform on stage but how it all happens and how to make it look and sound great."

The new facility hopes to bring the 74 percent of Westby students that participate in band or choir even higher.

The performing arts center is now open with the UW-Platteville Jazz Band performing on February 12.

MORE: Westby Area Fine Arts Foundation

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