The A-F Area Education Foundation organized in 2002 and immediately began working with the Adams-Friendship school board, administrators, and staff to determine the need and potential uses for a fine arts center in our community. As a result of their findings, the dream of having our own performing arts center was born. The Foundation set the goal to raise $1,000,000 for the building of a facility that would benefit all of the students in the Adams-Friendship School District and create a space for the entire community to use and enjoy. Foundation members presented their proposal to the A-F School Board, and board members agreed to the planning for a fine arts center, to fund part of the project if/when the Foundation’s goal was met, and to assume responsibility of the facility as school property for ongoing control, maintenance and use once the facility became a reality. Due to the efforts of many, the Foundation met its $1,000,000 goal during the 2013–2014 school year and the decision was made to take the proposal to district voters.
Even after a close loss on a referendum vote Foundation members never gave up. They continued fund raising efforts, reorganized, recruited additional help, developed more community support, and were able to pledge $1.5 million when the proposal went to the voters for the second time. On April 7, 2015, the dream of a Fine Arts Center for the Adams-Friendship School District and community became a reality following a successful referendum. Financing was arranged locally, and the groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 10, 2015.
Official Groundbreaking Ceremony, September 2015
Work progressed quickly and due to outstanding project management, the building came in under budget and ahead of schedule. High school students were able to use the facility for their first day of school assembly in September of 2016.
The Real Groundbreaking
March 4. 2016
August 29, 2016
First day of school, September 2, 2016
The dedication of the Adams-Friendship Fine Arts Center on November 20, 2016, was the culmination of more than a decade of fund raising events, planning meetings, and many generous donations. A full house was on hand to celebrate this community achievement and honor the primary benefactors of the A-F FAC by naming the theater the Richard and Verla Lysy Theater.
The community choir performance at the dedication of the A-F FAC
November 20, 2016
High School Principal - Tanya Kotlowski
The FAC in Use
The Board of Education and the A-F Foundation agree that the primary use of this facility is to provide performance space for students involved in drama, vocal and instrumental music, forensics, and to provide display space for student artwork. During the first school year of use, staff and students began to learn how to take advantage of all of the features of the center. Fine Arts programs now had their own practice and performing areas, and the facility served as additional classroom space for students and classes at every level during special programs and assemblies. The building was heavily scheduled with elementary, middle, and high school concerts, plays, a dance recital, and the first A-F High School musical production since 1980. Student Council, FFA, and other school groups hosted meetings, conference events, and award programs. The high school College and Military Family Signing Night and Scholarship Night were held in the comfort of this fine facility, and graduation ceremonies were live streamed to screens in the theater where overflow and more comfortable seating was available.
South Central Middle School Honors Band
AA Scholars Award Ceremony
A-F High School Musical: The Pajama Game
Elementary School Concert
Once the school activities were scheduled, community groups began to fill in the open dates. Woman’s Night Out, annual meetings, church gatherings, Kids Day, and law enforcement trainings were just a few of the events booked into the FAC the first year.
The final step in developing facility use was to add the community entertainment component. In the winter of 2017 the Educational Foundation established a committee to research scheduling entertainment into the FAC and begin the process of booking shows for the general public to fulfill the promise made during the referendum campaign. The first AFAEF-sponsored show was brought into the Richard and Verla Lysy Theater in May of 2017 and the success of that event led to the establishment of the first full season of shows for the 2017-2018 season.
Art Stevenson and High Water, May 2017
As plans develop for the future use of this facility, it is clear that the dream of providing the entire community with a cultural venue to enjoy music, art, plays, recitals and a multitude of other events has been realized for the Adams-Friendship area. The A-F Area Educational Foundation continues to provide financial support for additional/updated equipment and training in lighting, sound, and programming for FAC staff. The Seat Sponsor Campaign and proceeds from the FAC Events shows will allow the AFAEF to continue its partnership with the Adams-Friendship School District to make sure this facility is maintained, equipped, staffed, and ready for everyone to use for many years to come.
The Future is bright for the Adams-Friendship Fine Arts Center!