Local Campaign Focusing on Acoustics at The Highland Center


A local campaign is focusing on the acoustics at The Highland Center.  The Highland County Arts Council and The Highland Center have joined forces to put the finishing touches on the auditorium in order to support arts and bring economic development to Highland County.  Arts Council member, Clair Myers, has more.

“I think anybody that goes in to The Highland Center is impressed that they have managed to keep that building.  The big room was kind of a basketball court at one time.  I remember going there years ago for a concert, and there were bleachers on one wall, and there was a stage across from it, and at that time, there was a drop ceiling with acoustical tile in it, and the sound was really pretty good in there, but when they restored it, historically accurate, it’s like singing in a bath tub,” Clair says with a laugh.  “So, the big concern I had with my background in performance is that we do something about the acoustics, as well as giving the room a little personality, more than it has now.”

Clair used to work with the Wayne Theatre in Waynesboro, Virginia, and he reached out to his previous contacts to find the means to better the acoustics of the building.  An initial proposal was around $120,000, so Clair continued to search for solutions.  He continues, “I got another friend of mine who is a sound person specifically.  Through him, we’re able to change the acoustics in there dramatically.  We put in new panels already, and the total cost is going to be somewhere around $40,000 to do it, which is a incredibly low cost for what we’re going to do.  At the present time, what we have is a series of panels around the room, a acoustical backdrop that goes behind a stage that can be built in different forms with platforms that the Arts Council bought, and we’re working on chairs which will be padded to help with the acoustics as well.  We’ve got some rugs in there.  So, it’s a $40,000 project.  We have a grant that will come in at the very end once we get to $35,000, so we’re on our way, but we need people to help us.”

Much of the costs will be in the new chairs, and folks can purchase one for $150, two for $250, or a row of ten for $1,000.  Any size of donation for the Auditorium Space Campaign can be made directly to the Highland County Arts Council or The Highland Center.  Both organizations envision the auditorium bringing more resources to the community.

Clair concludes, “You know, what most people don’t realize, there’s no other space in the immediate area for performances.  The cafetorium at the high school doesn’t quite work for it, so The Highland Center can be a kind of regional draw if we program it right and make this space one that people want to visit.  The Arts Council really is dedicated to trying to bring in performances and other things that are not readily available here.  For instance, on the 14th, we have a jazz singer who is really internationally known coming in, which we would never have been able to do in there with the acoustics the way they were.”

That jazz singer is Stephanie Nakasian, who is playing at The Highland Center on Saturday, April 14th at 7:30 p.m.  To learn more about the Auditorium Space Campaign, Claire Sax with The Highland Center can be reached at 540-468-1922.

Story By

Chris Swecker

is the Assistant Station Coordinator and a News Reporter for WVLS. He has roots in Highland County going back several generations, and he grew up in Monterey. Since graduating from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, he has pursued his career at a news station and advertising agency in Virginia, on Microsoft’s campus in the state of Washington, and in both states as sole owner and employee of a video production company. He enjoys exploring life with his wife, Jessa Fowler, traveling, hiking, hunting, gardening, and trying new foods, all while discovering more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He feels blessed to be a small part of this talented AMR team to help give back to the community that has provided him with so much.

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