glenn miller

Idaho Performing Arts brings Glenn Miller music to Idaho

When the Glenn Miller Orchestra hits Idaho next week, it will bring more than just the classic jazz swing style that Miller created with hits such as "In the Mood," "Moonlight Serenade" and "Pennsylvania 6-5000."

It brings the idea of a new arts center. The performance is presented by Idaho Performing Arts, a new organization based in Eagle, where a movement is happening to build a multi-use theater and mixed-use performance space.

"Eagle has a huge void," said Bill Stephans, who is the president of the new non-profit group. "There isn't a single performing arts venue, nowhere you can rent to put on a show. Eagle Performing Arts and Studio C, they have to go out of the area to perform."

Two years ago, the Eagle Arts Commission did a survey and found that 82 percent of the community was in favor of building a facility. The commission followed with a feasibility study that also supported the idea.

Times obviously have changed a bit economically, but the desire is still there, said Susan Roghani, owner of Camille Beckman and a supporter of the idea.

"If a community wants something, they will figure out a way to do it," she said. "I think there is enough interest. It's important to keep our town wealthy in the arts. It builds community, and the more well rounded it becomes, the stronger it becomes."

The Sept. 21 performance by the Miller orchestra will begin the campaign to raise awareness for the project, Stephans said.

"We felt the best way to get started was to start a separate organization and start contributing to what's offered in the Treasure Valley and build an audience," Stephans said.

The group that began with the Eagle Arts Commission set its mission to connect people of the Treasure Valley with the power of the arts, in order to transform lives and build community.

Another goal is to inspire the area arts community, Stephans said.

He used the Nampa Civic Center, which he managed for several years, as an example.

"When it was built in 1990, there were maybe two arts groups in Nampa and barely an audience," he said. "Once it was open, more groups started using it, and the audience came."

The 600-seat theater was busy much of the time. That would be the hope for Eagle, which already has a growing number of arts groups.

It also could be a venue for the Valley's existing arts groups from dance to chamber music, Roghani said.

There is a need for a mid-sized 800- to 1,200-seat theater in the Valley.

But right now it is just a twinkle in the eye. Idaho Performing Arts has identified a possible location on land next to Roghani's Camille Beckman factory along Eagle Road.

In the meantime, it will present work where it's possible. This first concert is at Swayne Auditorium at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa. Look for future presentations large and small, indoors and outdoors.

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