Having been a part of 18 productions in Watertown as part of either the high school drama department, River City Theatre Company or Summer Youth Theater, Joyce Peterson is well aware of what a great facility the Watertown-Mayer Performing Arts Center really is.
That’s why, as the new Performing Arts Center director — a position created this year by the Watertown-Mayer School Board -— Peterson is eager to see the facility used to its full potential. Her position was created in large part to help market the venue and bring in new entertainment, and in doing that, Peterson hopes to turn the facility into a true community asset.
“I’d like to work with the community and create some really fun community events,” she said. “It would be something where the tickets wouldn’t cost that much, but we’d be using the theater, it would give people something to do, and it would bring people in the community together.”
In his first several years in the district, Watertown-Mayer Superintendent Dave Marlette has often expressed disappointment with what he feels has been an underutilization of a state-of-the-art facility. The district last year partnered with a St. Cloud based entertainment firm in an effort to bring more acts to the venue, but aside from a comedy show last year, nothing more ever came of that arrangement, which came at no cost to the district. Now, the hope is that an in-house staffer will be able to better promote the venue.
Peterson’s vision for the PAC includes any number of possibilities. She likes the idea of having a community talent show, another comedy show, or a dinner event where one ticket price includes dinner at a local restaurant followed by a show at the PAC.
She’d also love to have a concert with more of a rock and roll feel to counter the jazz and orchestra performances that have become most associated with the venue in its early years. She also said dance recitals and even dance competitions could be a big boost for the district, because dance companies typically pay well for the use of facilities.
In short, Peterson just wants to offer something for everybody.
“I want to have more variety in the events that are here,” Peterson said. “I want to appeal to a broader variety of guests.”
The creation of the PAC director position was in large part to aid in the marketing and promotion of the venue, but the position will serve another role as well. Scheduling between various school, community and professional groups often was difficult with no single person in charge, and furthermore, many events were held in the venue without a representative of the district present.
Peterson will be present any time the facility is being used by outside groups, essentially serving as a host and making sure their needs are met. She’ll also be able to provide a set of eyes on how outside groups are using the facility and making sure the district’s equipment is both accounted for and being used properly.
“It’s not only to make sure we provide the best experience possible for the clients, but also to make sure the school stays safe and people use it properly,” she said.
Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]