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Walker Performing Arts finds home in Academy Theater

One of the owners says small theater in downtown Hagerstown 'a fantastic fit'

May 22, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • Kaitlin McSwine, middle, and the Broadway Bound Preformers sing after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Walker Performing Arts & Hagerstown Children's Theater in downtown Hagerstown on Tuesday.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

After years of operating out of local churches and a small studio space, hundreds of area arts education students now have a new place to call home.

Hagerstown officials joined Walker Performing Arts owners Teri and Jerry Walker for a ribbon-cutting Tuesday to celebrate the grand opening of their organization, which runs the Hagerstown Children’s Theater, at its new downtown location in the Academy Theater at 58 E. Washington St.

“We’re really excited about it,” Teri Walker said Monday.

The arts education organization, which has been in the area since 1997, previously operated out of local churches before moving to its own studio space about three years ago, Walker said.

On March 1, Walker Performing Arts officially moved into the small theater — “a little jewel” of downtown Hagerstown, Walker said — and “it’s a fantastic fit.”

“And the best thing ... is I can see the difference in our children already,” she said. “We’ve been here since March, but it’s such a huge difference to be able to have a class and to have rehearsal on the same stage that you’re going to perform.”

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Christy Blake, downtown recruitment and retention manager for the city, said in a news release that the company does a number of theater productions throughout the year, making it a perfect fit for Hagerstown’s Arts and Entertainment District.

“The city of Hagerstown would like to recognize the Hagerstown Children’s Theater and thank them for their investment in Hagerstown,” Blake said.

More than 100 students, ranging in age from 2 to 18, currently take part in classes that run from September through May, but that number jumps up over 150 when factoring in youngsters who take part in the summer camp programs, Walkers said.

The organization offers classes in theater development, music (voice and instrumental), dance and arts-based early childhood preschool classes, home school, theatrical productions, after-school classes and summer camps.

Walker said she looks forward to continued partnerships with the city and area organizations in the community, as well as developing new ones at its new location.

“Hagerstown is great,” she said. “It’s just such a wonderful city and a wonderful place, and I’ve really loved the fact that the kids ... feel more a part of the community. We’re really excited about having people come into the theater.”

More information about Walker Performing Arts and the children’s theater can be found at www.mytheaterarts.com.

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