Arts set to come alive in Norristown

March 9, 2010 in Uncategorized by Matt

Project Twenty1 wants to thank Stan Huskey for all his help on and off the committees, promoting Norristown Arts Hill!

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Published: Times-Herald – Monday, March 8, 2010 (Original Source)

By Stan B. Huskey
Commentary

I’ve been meeting with a group of people for the past few weeks about a party we’re going to throw for Norristown.

Doug Seiler, a local architect is running the meetings because he is the president of the Norristown Arts Advisory Council. Although, some days the meetings seem to run themselves, or Doug just loses control because he’s presiding over a group of some pretty strong-willed people.

Gene Frank has been the engine moving this train along. He’s been pushing us along at a pretty good clip because, well, we really don’t have much time.

Here’s how things started evolving, at least from where I’m sitting.

I was sitting in my office one day when I got a call about a new arts district in Norristown. I think it was Dave Forrest, Norristown’s municipal manager, who called to ask if we would do a story about the new district and a naming contest.

Sure, I said, since I had been working with the good folks at the Montgomery County Cultural Center for the past several years trying to get a new theater off the ground, I thought it was a great idea.

Next thing I know, Dave is in my office asking me to be on the executive committee for the new Norristown Arts Hill launch event. For some strange reason I agreed.

Fast forward a few months and here we are just a little more than a month before the big event.

The Norristown Arts Hill Launch Party is going to be held April 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. along DeKalb Street from Lafayette to Marshall, because that’s the new Arts Hill designation.

We’re going to have a couple of massive tents set up, one at Main and DeKalb and the other in the county parking lot at Airy and DeKalb.

There will be performances taking place all day long.

Rich Rogers is handling logistics for the event. He usually sits back at the meetings and pecks away at his laptop. I’m not sure what he’s doing, but I’d be willing to bet there’s a lot more going on there than his exterior lets on. I mean, we’re talking about a couple dozen performances that he’s going to be coordinating.

Kathy Arnold-Yerger is the second in command of this band of merry men and women. She’s used to this kind of chaos. Kathy runs the Montgomery County Norristown Public Library.

Gabriela Prete is the secretary for the executive committee. I’ve never seen anyone write so fast. Of course, there’s usually more than one person talking at a time, so she does have a lot to keep up with.

Nancy DeLucia is in charge of space planning. She should have plenty of space since the event is taking up three city blocks, but, really, we’re going to run out of room fast. She always looks calm and collected at the meetings, though.

Bill Caldwell is the treasurer. He has a pretty easy job if you ask me, at least for now, because we don’t really have any money. That’s going to change, though, right Bill? I mean, as council president you should be able to pull a few strings, right?

Jayne Musonye has been at a few of the meetings as well, so I’m sure if you need to put any ‘plans’ in place she’ll be right there for you.

To round out the group a couple of theater folks are on board, too.

Fran Doyle, the matriarch of the cultural center and Erin Reilly, who runs Theatre Horizon at the cultural center, are both putting their energy into the upcoming event.

Sean Cullen has also joined the fold. I’ve known Sean since his district attorney’s office days. He’s now opened up his own law practice on Main Street next to the Court House Diner and he’s ready to get involved.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone, and there are dozens of others working behind the scenes to make the event a success as well, but the main reason for writing about this today is to point out this wide array of people who are working together for something positive for Norristown.

And, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, we’re all doing it out of the kindness of our hearts.

Launch party is a perfect name for this event. We’re not only launching the newly designated Norristown Arts Hill, but hopefully a renaissance of the arts in the county seat.

I’ve been saying it for quite some time now, and thanks to some very generous people, mostly at this point we’re talking about Pat Mascaro and his company J.P. Mascaro and Sons, as well as the state thanks to Mike Vereb of the 150th District, we’ll soon be launching the new Centre Theater in Norristown.

We’re going to be gutting the entire first floor of what is now the cultural center and taking out the ceiling as well to make room for a 200-plus seat theater.

This will be the destination point Norristown has been sorely lacking for many years, perhaps since the Norris theater closed its doors.

Of course, we’re talking about a lot more meetings with a lot of other people who are just as dedicated to Norristown as the folks I’m working with now, but that’s just fine, because when we launch the new theater, there’s really going to be a party.