WESTFIELD — The Lake Shore Center for the Arts organization hosted a grand opening for its new digs in Westfield last month. Center officials showcased the new space that includes a state-of-the-art theater, recital hall and art gallery.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony sponsored by the Westfield-Barcelona Chamber of Commerce started the formal program while more than 100 guests enjoyed drinks and appetizers, viewed visual art and listened to piano music. Karin Cockram played classical tunes on the brand new grand piano while guests mingled and admired amazing works of art hung in the recital hall.
Rick Mascaro, Lake Shore Center for the Arts executive director, led the opening ceremony in the theatre with standing room only, after a social hour and facility tours. Mascaro spoke about the journey center officials embarked upon to find and create the facility.
The center originated as the Juice Box Theatre years ago, and members realized a need for theater and music opportunities for adults along the lakefront, which now has close to 100 members. The group then decided to become a full-fledged fine arts center, adding in visual art, and searched for a Westfield location because it is most central to where core members reside.
In less than three months, the stairwell and upstairs back wing of the First Presbyterian Church was transformed into a fine arts space. Rick Matthews, Lake Shore Center for the Arts president, expressed his sincere praise of the facility transformation, ”It came together magically.”
A 55-seat theatre with full stage and state-of-the-art lighting and audio technology highlights the space. It is named the Jacqueline Phillips Theatre in honor of her contributions to the center. The recital hall, with cutting-edge sound engineering accoutrements and potential to seat 30 was dedicated to William ”Bill” Ross, the late Westfield Academy and Central School music teacher and county-wide renown music educator. Ross’ daughter, Donna, spoke during the ceremony stating she was honored and touched to have the Hall named after her father.
The art gallery is dedicated to Brenda Eno. Her father, Dr. Don Eno, along with his wife, Marion, were present. Dr. Eno spoke stating his daughter would have been very honored. Brenda Eno was an artist who lost her life to cancer at a young age.
Nancy Nixon Ensign, vice president of the Northshore Arts Alliance and coordinator of the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Art Trail, commissioned six artists to exhibit works for the gallery and grand opening event. The works will be shown for three months with a total of four shows rotating throughout the year. The current show includes sculptures, paintings, photography and other media.
In addition to rotating art, the center will feature poetry, script and creative writing workshops. Acting and music lesson will be available as well as numerous plays, instrumental and vocal music performances. Readers theaters and poetry nights will also take place.
Funding of the center was made possible by membership fees, personal donations and a large grant from the Peter Brand Foundation. Director of the foundation, Jackie Phillips, spoke at the ceremony stating this space is an incubator of creativity and it offers more than an opportunity to participate in the arts — it is good for business and makes Westfield an attractive community. She closed her remarks suggesting everyone take steps to treasure and preserve the arts.
The mission of the Lake Shore Center for the Arts is to offer adults and senior-level art students the opportunity to take part in, perform and attend meaningful and professional theater, music and visual arts opportunities.