After many years, is the PAC finally due for an update?

With all the love the performing arts center has gotten over the years, some believe it is so worn out that it needs a complete remodel.


Photo by Lucy Bowles

The worn words on the PAC building may be a sign that it is in need of an update.

The Performing Arts Center, better known as the PAC, has been home to many generations of drama, choir, band, and orchestra students. Being built into the school in 1984, it has held many memorable moments in the school’s history. Though it is very well loved, it is also very worn and dated. 

The PAC is used daily by the theater department, choir, band, and orchestra, as well as used nearly every day for rehearsals during the weeks preceding the fall/winter production, and the weeks preceding the spring productions – a total of three productions per year. 

Being used this much, it is bound to wear out. With this in mind, is the PAC due for a complete remodel? 

“While I am extremely grateful to have the space, there are several design flaws and elements that hold our performing arts groups back,” said Stephen Pickard, the band teacher who also conducts the pit orchestra for theater productions. “The stage and floors are 100% concrete, which don’t allow for a legitimate pit for the musicals. Many high school, college, and professional stages have a space in front and underneath the stage for a pit orchestra to perform and accompany musical productions.  

“Another thing is that the actual sound booth is off stage in a separate room, which doesn’t allow for effective sound mixing and balancing. There is next-to-no storage for costumes, furniture, workshop, etc., which help house all the materials and elements that go into successful plays and musicals.” 

Justin Wisness, the choir teacher, lists many of the same concerns as Pickard as well as a few of his own. 

“The movable wall and bleachers. The wall is very difficult to move, and the bleachers are a nuisance during concerts,” he said. “They are extremely loud when people walk on them. They are also uncomfortable … There is not enough storage … The stage extension is extremely heavy and difficult to set up for band concerts. The seats are not labeled in a way conducive to sell tickets. The tables in the chairs make clicking sounds during concerts because they are bumping against the metal frames.  

“I could continue on, but we really need a new PAC. … Our students and former students deserve it.” 

However, the students have specifically voiced that the PAC doesn’t need a full remodel. 

“The PAC should not be remodeled. Like any theater, it holds a lot of history,” Samantha Greenfield, a member of the Drama Board said. “Out of sight to most, the walls (and some ceilings) of backstage are signed with advice and well-wishes from past students. Our PAC is full of history, and should be maintained rather than redone.”  

Concurring, Samantha Kincade, a regular performer in the school plays, said, “I believe the PAC is due for quite a few updates – but not a complete remodel. The space is functional as it is, but I do believe there are a few things here and there that could be improved. However, it is a place full of tradition for the arts department here at Rogers, so completely redoing it would take away the essence of the PAC as it is now.” 

Students, specifically those who perform in the plays, have said that their equipment, such as curtains, lights, sound system and especially their mic belts are in a desperate need of an update, and have been for some time now. 

“The PAC currently functions on the bare essentials. It has shredded curtains, an archaic sound/light system, and the fly (the area above the stage for hanging props, lights, etc.) is crowded with mechanics that do not work,” said Greenfield. “Our seating was recently renumbered, but due to an error, the seats are not separated by section, as they should be. While our PAC works, it is by no means up-to-date, and could certainly be improved.”  

So, with all this information, what can be done? 

Fundraisers have been discussed in the past. Other than that, nothing has been officially arranged to raise money for equipment/upgrades. 

“Drama funding is a big issue… the best-case scenario… is that the drama department would need to host a lot of fundraisers to pay for the improvements we need,” said Greenfield. 

Although a fundraiser is a good first step it would not raise the kind of money needed to make the big improvements the PAC needs. The kind of money that the school would need to fix the bigger problems would come from a bond. 

“The last time we tried to run a bond (2020), there were no updates/upgrades for the PAC or music classrooms,” said Pickard. 

The PAC has been there for the school and its students in the best and worst of the school’s history, and has become a second home to many of the students. 

“I spend most of my time at the school there, and it’s my favorite place. I’ve met my favorite people through it, and have had some of my favorite experiences.” said Tatum Snyder, a member of the Drama Board. 

Kincade adds, “It’s a home – in a way, my drama home. I’ve been performing there since 7th grade so it has become a very special place to me. I’ve created so many memories and made so many friends there. As much as I’d love to see it improved, I don’t think it should be redone entirely. It would be like demolishing and rebuilding one’s childhood home – it becomes an entirely new, and unfamiliar place, simply in the place your old home used to be.” 

And Greenfield concludes, “The performing arts center is so incredibly important to me. I have been in productions on our stage since the 4th grade. I have spent over 100 hours of my life in our PAC, working with wonderful people to put on wonderful productions. The PAC is my home away from home. I feel like part of something bigger than myself when I’m on that stage, in the wings, or back in the greenroom. I have so many amazing friendships with people I would never have had the opportunity to meet with Rogers theater.”