Arts and Culture

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For more than two hundred years, the residents of Luzerne County’s cities, towns, and villages have been justifiably proud of the local arts and culture that flourish here in the Wyoming Valley. Thanks to the wealth that was generated through the coal mining industry, theaters and theater companies, orchestras, ballets, and performing arts have been an important element of Luzerne County’s heritage.Luzerne County is ideally located in terms of arts and culture. Philadelphia’s exciting cultural attractions, including one of the world’s great art museums, are an easy, two-hour drive. The dozens of theaters on Broadway in Manhattan are also less than two hours away. But, Luzerne County residents have exceptional to outstanding venues, attractions and opportunities available right within our communities.Luzerne County offers historic theaters, colleges and universities with exceptional arts programs, art education programs, several lecture series, dance programs, music education, a symphony orchestra, bands and choruses, an extraordinary arts festival, cultural centers, historic houses and historic sites, and, best of all, a community that appreciates and is enthusiastic about arts and culture in northeastern Pennsylvania.If you never travel to Broadway or to Philadelphia, our community’s arts and culture programs, and related activities, will go a long way toward satisfying your needs.Music, Art, Dance, Entertainment – Everywhere you look and all through the yearWachovia Arena image The Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre, in addition to its role as a regional arena for professional sports, plays a key role in Northeastern Pennsyl-vania as a large venue for touring companies like the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, and numerous national touring artists. Elton John, who once played the arena twice within six months, is one of the arena’s biggest fans.The Fine Arts Fiesta image Wilkes-Barre’s Fine Arts Fiesta is the oldest arts festival in Pennsylvania. This exceptional arts extravaganza celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2005. The Fiesta primarily takes place in Public Square in Wilkes-Barre in the middle of May over a long weekend. The Fiesta includes a full program of music, everything from children’s presentations to Polka bands to high school ensembles to a performance by the Northeastern Philharmonic Orchestra. Additionally, Public Square is filled to capacity with two juried art exhibits – a juried adult show and a juried student show that provide local artists the opportunity to showcase their exceptional talents.Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic image The Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic Orchestra. The Philharmonic, under the direction of Lawrence Loh, brings together a fully professional, eighty-piece symphonic orchestra representing the finest talent available throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania – from Scranton, Hazleton, Wilkes-Barre, and dozens of other communities in Penn’s Northeast. The Philharmonic is the third largest professional orchestra in the Commonwealth. The Philharmonic performs in the F.M Kirby Center on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, in the Scranton Cultural Center, and at various other locations throughout the year, including an exceptional evening on the 4th of July in Kirby Park.
Arts - F.M. Kirby Center image The F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts. The Kirby started its life as an elegant movie theater on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre. In 1938, the Comerford movie theater chain erected her as a monument to its founder This grandest of all movie palaces, with an advanced art deco design featuring five lobbies, oval rose-colored mirrors, tall fluted columns, doors and walls in copper tints with shades of metallic blue, was the “place to be seen” in America’s grandest age. She became the Paramount in 1949, and continued as the premier movie theater in all of Northeastern Pennsylvania into the 1970s. Although this grand lady with her spectacular lobby chandelier survived Agnes’ daunting flood waters – 14 feet of water, muck, and mud entered through the main lobby doors – the end of grand movie houses was inevitable, and the Paramount closed in late 1977. Although the building suffered significantly after her closing, she was resurrected by an impressive, community-based capital campaign which raised more than four million dollars.Since her opening in 1986 as the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, this magnificently restored performing arts theater has played host to worldrenowned entertainers from Broadway, Hollywood, the London stage, Nashville, Las Vegas, and even from Lake Wobegon, Minnesota when Garrison Keillor comes to town to tell stories. She also serves as a movie theater for limited engagement, and arts and foreign language films. She is also the Wilkes-Barre home of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic Orchestra.

Last Updated: 11/03/06 09:12:06
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