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Iowa Lakes dedicates performing arts center

By Staff | Aug 3, 2020

Iowa Lakes Community College trustee cheers honoree Janice Lund as Lund accepts a side-hug from college President Valerie Newhouse. Photo by Amy H. Peterson

Staff members and alumni of Iowa Lakes Community College handed out snacks on sticks during the dedication ceremony for the Janice K. Lund Performing Arts Center Thursday evening. Lund, a longtime trustee of the college, was present for the naming honor with her family. Members of the current board of trustees as well as college administrators spoke of the long process to make the center a reality.

In 2016, the constituents of the five counties (Emmet, Dickinson, Clay, Palo Alto and Kossuth) within the Iowa Lakes Community College District approved a bond referendum to fund the Janice K. Lund Performing Arts Center, along with various projects completed on each campus.

The area was once greenspace and parking.

Officials close to the construction project said the new center, “cuts a stunning silhouette across the skyline, boasting lovely architecture melded with artistic functionality that will host generations of arts and entertainment.”

Iowa Lakes Community College president Valerie Newhouse said, “The Janice K. Lund Performing Arts Center will be a cornerstone for students and faculty to infuse the arts into our campus and our community.”

Local musician Glenn Henricksen provided piano music for appetizers and beverages enjoyed outside the center, where a generous spot of greenspace remains, as small groups toured the building.

Lund, present with her family members, also posed for photos in front of a plaque just outside the auditorium, which was unveiled to a very small group inside, due to social distancing requirements. Masks were required to enter the building, and outside when six-feet of social distance was not possible.

A week of performances and activities had been planned for the original April dedication date; COVID-19 closed the college and scuttled the musical “Mamma Mia” and other events.

Music instructors Carol Ayres and Brett Fuelberth have kept records of what they would like to see in a performing arts space and elements that were “must haves” over the three decades they have been part of the college.

Lund began her service to the college in 1993 as a trustee and then board president. Lund moved to Estherville with her husband and sons, Steve and Chris, in 1974. She was involved in numerous community activities along with her work at the USDA Farm Service Agency for 30 years up to her retirement in 2008.

In 2010, Lund was the recipient of the John P. Kibbie Trustee Leadership Award by the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees board. The recognition was due to her dedication and active participation in the community college system on the local and national levels.

Steve Christensen of Christensen Construction in Estherville was also recognized for his contributions to the facility.

In a statement, the college stated, “The centerpiece of the Janice K. Lund Performing Arts Center is a 500-seat theater with an open mezzanine that accommodates up to 120 people for a seated meal, or more for standing cocktails or intermission snacks. The performing arts center also includes a box office and area for concessions.”

Backstage, instead of the standard green room, the college opted to create a blue-note space for performers and speakers to await their cues and to host small private vents. The new costume area provides space to launder, sew and store costumes. The theater incorporates a state-of-the-art theater rigging system and an advanced lighting and sound system.

Fuelberth, vocal music professor at Iowa Lakes, said, “Before Spring Break, the Concert Choir was able to sing a couple of pieces on stage. The acoustics sounded fabulous, and the new state-of-the-art sound system sounds amazing.”

Carol Ayres, instrumental music professor, said, “The line of sight from the seats to the stage is incredible. There are no bad seats in the house!”

Newhouse said the college is hoping for a larger grand opening with a series of performances in the space either in November, 2020 or January, 2021.