By Linda Dillman
Retired Canal Winchester High School teacher Todd Phillips is not one to sit on his laurels or in a rocking chair after decades spent working with students in music and theatre.
Phillips is turning his time and talents to establishing the Performing Arts Collective for Canal Winchester and bringing music, theatre, and arts opportunities to the community at large.
He began talking to people in spring of last year as his retirement neared and he looked for new ways to contribute to the community.
“The old joke is that ‘you never retire from Performing Arts,’ said Phillips, “‘You just change venues for better hours.’”
A board of directors was formed by late summer and non-profit designation paperwork initiated in September. The PAC received its 501c3 non-profit status in November and plans to start community programming this year.
“I’ve been in Canal Winchester for 35 years,” said Phillips. “It’s a great community and I’ve been blessed to see it grow from a small school district in the middle of a cornfield to a significant suburban community.”
However, Phillips feels performing arts opportunities outside of school have not only not kept up with the times, but they have also decreased as well.
“In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a community choir and there was a school alumni band,” Phillips said. “Both of those programs disappeared in the early nineties. The Canal Winchester community is larger than it has ever been, but there are effectively no opportunities being offered to the community. I now have the time, the experience, and the support to work to change that.”
While Phillips acknowledges the organization cannot go from zero to 60 overnight, there are short and long term goals to bring vocal and instrumental music, theater, and movement/dance programs to Canal Winchester for students and adults.
The first program is Winchester Voices, a community based choir for ages 16 and up starting at the end of February. The collective is also planning community theater activities in late spring.
“We’re in conversations right now with the Joint Recreation District (JRD) and Wagnalls Memorial to see how we can collaborate and bring as many programs to the community we can in a timely manner,” said Phillips. “We’ve also had conversations with the Canal Winchester city government, the Chamber of Commerce and Destination Canal Winchester. They are all 100 percent in support of our program goals.”
As a 501c3 non-profit, the organization is funded by donations and modest participation fees when necessary. Donations can be made through the CWPerformingArts.info website. An eight-member board of directors represents all aspects of performing arts, many of whom have been in Canal Winchester their entire lives.
“We will be applying for every possible grant that we can to help support and grow the programs,” said Phillips. “Individual groups (music, theater, dance) will have various locations around the community. We’re very lucky to have offers from churches and other community groups to use their spaces.”
For information about the Performing Arts Collective and performance ensembles, visit CWPerformingArts.info or their Facebook page at CW Performing Arts Collective.