Does the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center ring a bell? Well it should! It’s the new 2,000-seat entertainment venue that’s currently under construction in Brown County. That’s right, Brown County is adding to its musical heritage and entertainment repertoire by building a brand new, state-of-the-art performing arts center!
Ground was broken is July, meaning that by now the building process is well underway. Once completed, this county-owned venue will host a wide variety of local, regional, and national acts, including concerts, plays, comedians, and more. Mark your calendars because as of now, the grand opening is estimated to be as soon as late summer/early fall of 2019!
Recently the venue hired its fearless new leader, Dana-Beth Evans! With over 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector…and a pretty extensive history of restoring and managing theaters, Dana Beth was brought on board as Executive Director of the Maple Leaf.
Don’t let her outgoing personality and charming Southern accent fool you, Dana Beth is a driven, straight-shooting force to be reckoned with. A native of Kentucky, Dana Beth led Elizabethtown, Kentucky’s Main Street program, revitalizing its community and economy. She also served as leader of the Elizabethtown-Hardin County Heritage Council and executive director of the Historic State Theater Complex.
After meeting her husband, Dana Beth officially became a Hoosier, relocating to Bloomington, Indiana where he was from. And in case you were wondering, it’s Dana Beth, not just Dana or Beth, but both…you can thank her Southern roots for that one!
Once in Indiana, Dana Beth served as executive director of the Tivoli Theatre in Spencer. In fact, she’s the one that helped restore the historic 1920s theater back to its days of grandeur!
After that, Dana Beth was director of the Monroe County History Center in Bloomington before moving to Pennsylvania to serve as general manager of the Community Arts Center, a 2,200-seat historic theater similar in size to what the Maple Leaf will be. That’s when the Executive Director position for the Maple Leaf caught her eye.
With her sons, grandkids, and husband’s family being from Indiana, the move back just seemed right. And for the group hiring her, Dana Beth’s long theater rap sheet made her the obvious candidate for the job. The rest, as they say, was history!
Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Dana Beth to ask her about her new role and about the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center in general. Check out my Q&A with her below!
Me: Why did the Maple Leaf Executive Director position seem like a good fit for you?
Dana Beth: I’ve had a lot of experience in non-profit management and in theater. Also, I think the fact that it is brand new is exciting and it seems like the local community is very involved and supportive of the project. Plus, I lived in Bloomington for around six and half years and love the area. I was born and raised in a small town, so I couldn’t wait to come back to that. This area just feels like home to me.
Me: How do you feel about being chosen as the Executive Director?
Dana Beth: So far, I’ve been very welcomed and humbled by the response from the local community and the Maple Leaf Management Group. Everyone seems so inviting and supportive. I’ve already been invited out to lunch multiple times, so I’d say that’s a good sign! I’m just very grateful for the opportunity.
Me: What will your main responsibilities and daily tasks be as Executive Director?
Dana Beth: My goal for the first 90 days is to meet people involved in the project and community members in general. Let’s just call this bit the “honeymoon phase.” I need to get caught up on everything there is to know about the project. I’ll be working on the strategic plan for the venue, working on policies and procedures, and nailing down contracts with vendors, booking agencies, and performers.
Me: So, what will be next on your radar after that?
Dana Beth: Next will be activating the strategic plan and getting down to business. This will be the “boots on the ground phase.” We’ll be marketing the venue, building and growing, getting all the operations nailed down, developing and coordinating a volunteer program for shows, and then ramping up for the grand opening.
Me: How would you describe yourself and how will those characteristics help you succeed at the Maple Leaf?
Dana Beth: I’m definitely an extrovert. I’m energetic and loud and I like to have fun. I believe if you’re not having fun, then you don’t need to be doing it! I think my enthusiasm and energy will help get others excited about the venue, which in turn, will help it grow and thrive. I’m also a straight shooter. I think that people appreciate that I don’t beat around the bush. I stick with the facts and the plan and get things accomplished.
Me: How do you think the Maple Leaf will impact the community and the local economy?
Dana Beth: This project is huge for the area. I think it really holds great potential for positive economic impact on the area and is a big boost for tourism to Brown County. Our goal is to get everyone behind this project, so we can all help each other succeed.
Me: How will serving in this role be different than your previous jobs, particularly other theaters?
Dana Beth: It’s going to be different in the fact that it’s brand new, whereas other theaters I’ve worked in, I’ve had to restore and revitalize. I’m very excited to see this project develop from the ground up. This is a living facility, not a historic one. I’m looking forward to working with the local community and nearby region to grow this venue and create what we want its new history to be.
Me: How’s the project going? What is your timeline for getting the Maple Leaf up and running?
Dana Beth: So far, we’re pretty on schedule with our construction, but of course the winter weather will dictate how fast that goes. Right now, we’re looking at selling tickets here in a few months, with a couple of soft openings throughout the summer and our grand opening in late summer/early fall.
Me: Any insight into acts that will be booked?
Dana Beth: We’re working with Live Nation to nail down some shows then we’ll be in charge of figuring out and booking the rest. All I can say is that we’re working on some really good acts and everyone should stay tuned!
Me: Right now, you’re renting a place in Bloomington, but I know once you get settled in a bit more, you are planning on making the move to Brown County. Why are you excited about moving to and being part of the Brown County community?
Dana Beth: Like I said before, I’m from a small town and I love small town living. It’s much more inviting and accepting. It’s cheesy but it’s like the show Cheers, “everyone knows your name.” Everyone just feels like family. I’ve been very welcomed so far and I’m looking forward to making many more friends over the next few years.
Sounds like Dana Beth is already fitting in and loving the Brown County way of life. Sounds like she’s got this theater thing down pat too! We’ll take her advice and stay tuned to see how the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center progresses and to know when we can get our hands on some tickets. You should too!
For now, you can find the most up-to-date info on www.mapleleafperformingartscenter.com.