On Jan.1, 2017 the Elks Performing Arts Center officially opened for business. Steven Kartstein, the center’s manager and very first employee, has been here from day one. He offers an interesting perspective on where the Elks Performing Arts Center was when he walked in, as well as where he sees it now and in the future. I decided to ask Steven a few questions about his experience with the Elks Performing Arts Center in celebration of going on three years strong.
Tell me about your first experiences managing the Elks Performing Arts Center?
When we first opened, there was just an empty building. It had just completed being remodeled for the last five years. It was a beautiful space. We had to think about and decide what our mission was going to be and how we would go about fulfilling it, and what form that would take.
How has the day-to-day schedule changed from the beginning to now?
In the beginning there was a lot of reaching out to the community. I drove, walked, called, emailed and wrote to hundreds of diverse groups around Prescott to let them know we were here and ready to help promote the performing arts in the Quad Cities. We needed to reach out to let people know about the dance studios, recording studio and of course the third-floor event spaces.
What kind of facilities and programs do you offer?
As I mentioned, on the second floor we have the two dance studios, one with a professionally installed sprung Marley vinyl flooring and barre for ballet and contemporary dance. The other has floating hardwood hickory flooring. Both studios are fully mirrored. Also on the second floor are the Wenger Soundlok practice booths and The Elks recording studio. The recording space is available to be used by the community for all of its professional recording needs. We have engaged a professional recording engineer. All of the spaces are available to rent at low subsidized rates.
You say you do concerts and entertainment in the upstairs hall? Can you tell me a little about that?
Yes! In 2019 we started having, separate from The Theatre, a number of different kinds of acts in the intimate surroundings of the Crystal Hall and Sundance Rooms. These range from comedy, jazz concerts and dances, blues music, open mic night, etc. We have partnered with many groups from the local performing arts scene, like the Mile High Comedy Theatre, the Folk Sessions, Az Phil, Prescott Night Out, and others. Of course the event halls are also available for meetings, parties, weddings and a host of other events.
What about community programs and scholarships?
One of the unique things about The Elks is that we are a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. What that means is that a portion of the revenue that we collect from renting out the spaces on the second and third floors is returned to the community at large in the form of scholarships, musical instrument purchases for local students, performing arts education and other programs. The Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center is proud to support, for example; Prescott High School, Mile High Middle School, La Tierra Community School and a multitude of others.
Anything coming up in the future that we should know about?
In 2020 we are looking forward to expanding our outreach to local musical and theater groups. We hope to partner with as many diverse groups as we can to fulfill our mission of being the place in Prescott and the surrounding area providing space for practice, rehearsal and training in the performing arts. Anyone interested in learning more can call us at 928-756-2844, email email@example.com or visit www.prescottelkstheater.com.
Photo: From left to right: Cindy Hernon, Maxine Dillahunty, Dale McDonald, Trevor Odom, Steven Kartstein, Linda Walls, Colette Greenlee, Jennifer Ward, Mary Towne, Trisha Tibbits, Joanie Vancore.