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The Junction Center celebrates opening of performing arts center
The Junction Center, 1875 Junction Road, Manheim, is hosting a grand opening celebration and dedication of its new performing arts center at 6 p.m., on Monday, April 3.
This special evening at Robert M. Landis Memorial Hall will kick off with pre-concert music by House Project and hors d’oeuvres followed by a concert by Rend Collective. The cost of the event is $100 per person. A limited number of tickets are available and may be purchased online at thejunctioncenter.com or by phone at 419-3701.
The Junction Center serves as home to WJTL 90.3 FM. WJTL/Creative Ministries, Inc. is a locally based non-profit Christian organization founded in 1984. The format of the station is contemporary Christian music with more than 100,000 different individuals tuning in each week.
WJTL president Tim Landis explained that the Junction Center property and buildings were purchased in the fall of 2011 after the previous owner had gone bankrupt and never moved in. The site is centrally located to Lancaster, York and Harrisburg, and it’s near Root’s Market.
“It was a real blessing when WJTL was able to purchase the facility for less than one third of its original cost,” he said, “We are a donor-supported ministry. It is our prayer that this property will serve as a blessing to many and serve as an important venue to present faith-based and family-friendly events.”
The 28-acre property has been developed in three phases, with the performing arts center as the third phase. Landis said that the first phase included the Junction Center’s studio and office building. The studio wing features the on-air studio and a production room. The facility also houses the Millen Room, a 980-square-foot café that features a small stage and tables and seating for about 50 people. There’s also a video projection system and high-quality audio system. This is where the “Live from The Junction Center” radio broadcasts take place, and a warming kitchen and serving area make it a great venue for small events.. WJTL’s offices are also located in this building.
The Junction Center is also home to 14 acres of soccer fields used by Penn Legacy Soccer Club. Landis said that developing the fields was also part of phase one.
“Our motto is ‘Christ. Community. Music,’ so we very much want to be part of the community and partner with community organizations such as Penn Legacy,” he said.
During the second phase of development, the parking lot was expanded and stormwater improvements were made. Landis Hall is the third phase. Hosting events is nothing new for WJTL; since fall 2013, events were held outdoors in a large white tent that was 25 feet high, 60 feet wide and just under 100 feet long. It held a stage and was outfitted with sound and lighting systems and had been used to host events such as Kids Cookie Break Festival, movie nights, and concerts.
The performing arts center not only replaces that tent, but it also allows WJTL to host events year-round rather than on a seasonal basis. Landis explained that a portion of the building that houses the performing arts center was existing. The vestibule and storage area are the additions, and original artwork by Bird-in-Hand artist Sheila O’Keefe, on loan from an anonymous donor, adds color to the vestibule.
“We’ve repurposed a number of items from the existing building. The garage doors at the back of the stage, which allow for easy loading and unloading of equipment, had been located in another part of the building,” he said.
A flexible multi-use space, the performing arts hall can host concerts, theatrical productions, banquets, seminars, movies, and exhibits. Landis estimated that it can accommodate up to 600 people, but he pointed out that it also allows for wide range of smaller to medium size events that were not practical before. A moveable back wall means that the hall can be scaled down so that even the smallest shows will have a great atmosphere. The hall is also wired directly to the studios allowing for live radio and internet broadcasts, and the sound and lighting boards are moveable.
The fresh contemporary design imbues the hall with a warm, inviting feel. The custom-designed audio system from Clair Brothers features flame maple speakers fitted with bespoke copper grills. Landis said that those speakers were designed to blend in with the unique wood wall surrounding the stage that’s crafted from reclaimed wood. “
The wall is a very unique, and Clair Brothers did a wonderful job with the speakers and the entire sound system,” he said.
The 40-foot wide theatrical stage boasts a state-of-the-art lighting system designed by Stray Lighting and Production Services.
“Not only are these two outstanding companies, but they’re local and using their services fits with our mission statement,” Landis said.
Running the length of the building is a mezzanine that has a great view of the stage. It features extra-wide padded seats, overflow tables with barstools and access to a lounge area stocked with free snacks and drinks. The green room and dressing rooms were designed with the same attention to detail, and feature live video and audio from the stage.
The cost of the third phase of renovation was just over $2.5 million. Landis said that nearly 80 percent is being paid for by ministry funds with the balance coming from WJTL’s building fund. He explained that Robert M. Landis Memorial Hall is a legacy (challenge) gift honoring his father, the late Robert M. Landis.
“My dad was a humble man who never sought the spotlight. He loved the Lord, his children and Christian music,” Tim Landis said. “As a family, we thought it was fitting tribute to be the lead donors for this project.”
Including the challenge gift of $250,000, a total of $319,382 has been raised to date. The minimum that still needs to be raised is $180,618.
In addition to the opening event, Landis Hall will host several upcoming events including several concerts, a celebration of LCBC Worship’s new worship album “We Are Lives,” and theatrical productions such as Lancaster Academy for the Performing Arts “The Wizard of Oz.” Information about events can be found, and tickets may be purchased, online at thejunctioncenter.com.
Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.
About Rochelle A. Shenk
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