This season is a special one for LCCC’s Stocker Humanities and Fine Arts Center as it celebrates its 35th anniversary.
Thirteen years after the opening of Lorain County Community College, leaders of the LCCC College Board of Trustees and the LCCC Foundation Board envisioned a building entirely devoted to arts and humanities that would serve not only the needs of students but also as a resource for the entire community. Achieving this vision took the dedicated leadership of several community volunteers who worked diligently to garner state and local support for the project. In fact, it was through the efforts of the LCCC Foundation Board who raised half the facility construction costs to persuade the state for matching support.
“The people that built this building were far sighted I think,” said Janet Herman Barlow, Stocker Arts Center director. “They looked into the future and said – ‘OK, what can we develop that will have a lasting impact on the community?’ I think they did that by building a facility that’s educational and provides great entertainment – that offers visual and performing arts, live shows, film. It can do everything and is really pretty unique.”
In 1977, groundbreaking ceremonies where held for the long-awaited Fine Arts Center. The Center was designed to have a 984-seat, continental-style theater, with two sections mounted on turntables that could be completely closed off from the main theater. The building also includes a dance studio, a recital hall, a studio theater, an art gallery and several classrooms.
On September 27, 1980, grand opening ceremonies were held, dedicating the C. Paul Stocker Fine Arts and Humanities Center. The facility was named in honor of Paul Stocker, who served as the enthusiastic champion for the project. He was a successful industrialist who believed in philanthropy and service to educational, civic and community organizations. The prestigious Cleveland Orchestra presented the first program in the new center.
The Stocker Arts Center presents the Performing Artists Series, Random Acts Series, Studio Theater Cabaret Series, Student Matinee Series, Film Series, Gallery Exhibitions, and a variety of special events. Its performances are a mix of professional touring music, theatre, and dance attractions from throughout the United States and around the world. Its gallery exhibitions feature a mixture of student, faculty, community, and professional artists.
The Stocker Arts Center is also home to the LCCC Arts & Humanities division, and is the performing home for the LCCC Civic Chorale, LCCC Civic Orchestra, LCCC Concert Band, LCCC Jazz Band, and LCCC Theatre.
During the past 35 years the Stocker Center has served more than 1.2 million people.
“I think we definitely bring people on campus that wouldn’t otherwise have a relationship with the College,” Barlow said. “So, there is no better way to be a community’s college than to span all of the age ranges that live in your community and I think we do that really well here.”
Robert Beckstrom, dean of the Arts and Humanities division and who has been with LCCC for 30 years, agreed.
“When you look at our role, that is to be a community college, to provide the academic background of the students, the performance opportunity to them and also to be open to the community,” Beckstrom said. “I think we’ve really accomplished that and the caliber is so good and there’s every reason to be proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
For a complete list of performances at the Stocker Arts Center, visit www.stockerartscenter.com.