SCOTTSBLUFF — Western Nebraska Community College unveiled the new Platte Valley Companies Performing Arts Center during a dedication ceremony Thursday.

The public was invited on theater tours prior and following the dedication program while also enjoying hors d’oeuvres and looking through photos of past theater productions.

Bob Goss, a WNCC alumnus of the class of 1973, shared his excitement for the future of the college’s art program.

“I think it’s fabulous,” Goss said. “The talent that’s in this area that they’ve worked with is fabulous and this is just going to draw more people into theater.”

Goss expressed appreciation to the visionaries on the project to move the college’s performing arts forward.

Current WNCC student Carlee Brester looks forward to continuing her studies in the new space.

“I’m very excited for this new building and for what next year has in store,” Brester said. “Thank you for believing in us enough to invest in our future with such a wonderful new facility.”

The theater provides a new state-of-the-art facility for students and the community to engage in the arts.

“We are seated in the most technologically advanced theaters in the region,” said Patrick Newell, WNCC choral activities director. “This space will not only allow us to create beautiful performance, it will allow us to train students in all aspects of the performing arts — preparing them for their next steps in their education.”

To continue moving the college forward, Newell announced faculty have worked to offer three new performing arts programs to students. The programs are in musical theater, music performance and interdisciplinary arts studies. Students pursuing a degree in music performance have the option to study vocal or instrumental performance. The degrees in music, theater arts and visual arts have also been updated. The programs fall under an associate degree in fine arts, which is a new degree at the college.

Nathaniel Johnson, WNCC instrumental activities director, invited Judy Chaloupka onto the stage as part of the dedication. Chaloupka has served as the executive director of Theater West for 21 years.

“Judy’s passion for the arts in the Panhandle region of Nebraska is evident from her many years of service,” Johnson said. “We are very honored and privileged to present this theater, named in honor of Judy Chaloupka.”

Five years after the inception of the project, Chaloupka stood on the stage of the new theater, grateful for the community effort to make the facility a reality.

“My commitment to these efforts have been in line to my commitments to WNCC and to the future of this college,” Chaloupka said.

WNCC President Todd Holcomb expressed his excitement about the future of the college’s performing arts program and the impact the theater will have on the community for years to come.

“We will enjoy this theater for decades to come, but more importantly, our students will have a better experience here,” Holcomb said.

The grand reopening and ribbon cutting of the WNCC renovation is scheduled for Aug. 15 as a new school year begins.

Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at lauren.brant@starherald.com.

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