A Year at Door Community Auditorium

Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra.

Many tourists and seasonal residents visit Door Community Auditorium (DCA) and participate in our programming exclusively during the county’s busiest months. During “the season,” our venue and stage is filled with national touring acts. In recent years, performers like Joan Baez, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Taj Mahal, Indigo Girls, Brandi Carlile, and The Lumineers have played before houses packed with receptive audiences. These concert artists have inspired and captivated, while also adding to the overall Door County experience.

Presenting big name performing artists in an intimate venue is an organizational focus and a bright spot within our menu of programs. Many DCA supporters are surprised, however, to learn that from a percentage standpoint, performances by national touring acts comprise only 13 percent of the auditorium’s annual usage. The remaining 87 percent of auditorium usage is packed with a diverse assortment of community events including educational activities, rehearsals and assemblies; multi-generational, multi-disciplinary community happenings and performances; free movies, lectures and workshops; student band and choir concerts, dance recitals, and theatrical productions; and multiple-week residencies by professional regional partners.

The Door County community deserves much praise for identifying the need for a year-round, indoor, professional performing arts venue about 30 years ago. A group of committed individuals overcame funding, public opinion, and political challenges to build the consensus and momentum needed to raise the funds, create, and then, sustain a venue capable of housing and showcasing a wide variety of programs. But they did it and today, hundreds of events take place at DCA annually.

In 2013, 285 events were held at DCA including 126 student and professional rehearsals, 68 community events, 24 Main Stage productions, 16 rehearsals, 14 student theatrical productions, 12 assemblies, 12 workshops, seven choir concerts, six lectures, four band concerts, four movies, and three meetings. These events were presented by several different groups and organizations including Gibraltar Schools, Friends of Gibraltar, Peninsula Music Festival, American Folklore Theatre, Northern Door YMCA, Midsummer’s Music Festival, Ministry Door County Medical Center, Music Heals, H.E.L.P. of Door County, Door County Reads, Write On, Door County, Bay Area Music Association, D.A.R.E., the Public Health Department, DoorCan, and Peninsula Singers.

American Folklore Theater presented ‘Victory Farm’ last fall at Door Community Auditorium.

The mere existence of Door Community Auditorium as a public, performance venue benefits and supports all of these organizations, their members, and their audiences. Moreover, when DCA sponsors, donors, and volunteers share their time, talents, and financial means with us, their support ripples and resonates throughout the entire community. Community support of DCA not only benefits a Ziggy Marley or a Jackson Browne concertgoer, it is also shared with a winter lecture attendee, a Gibraltar student dancing on stage with professional dancers from Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, actors and audience sharing an American Folklore Theatre fall performance, and a chorister with the Peninsula Singers.

Here’s a closer look at just a few of our partners and partnerships:

Friends of Gibraltar (FOG) is the main programmatic connection between DCA and Gibraltar Schools. FOG routinely uses the auditorium to link school curriculum to cultural experiences, providing a richer, more dynamic learning environment. In 2013, FOG facilitated educational experiences with several performers and writers including Stuart Stotts, Salsa Manzana, Dan Keding, and Jump Rhythm Jazz Project. This year, DCA teams up with FOG to bring Lakota Sioux Indian Dance Theatre to Door County students and families.

This fall marks American Folklore Theatre’s fourth fall season at DCA. AFT and DCA began this relationship at a time when AFT was outgrowing its fall home and DCA was looking to increase venue usage and community service. Gibraltar School board members, administrators, and teachers help make the partnership a reality by working through significant calendaring issues.

Of their long-time relationship with DCA and Gibraltar Schools, Peninsula Music Festival Executive Director Sharon Grutzmacher writes, “The Peninsula Music Festival has performed in the Gibraltar School since its inception in August of 1953 when it took the stage in the middle school gym. In 1991 the festival held its first concert season in the state-of-the-art Door Community Auditorium. The acoustics are perfectly suited to a symphony orchestra. The stage is large enough to present larger works and the seating and lobby create a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere for the audience. Of course the air-conditioning and bug free environment are just icing on the cake!”

These collaborative relationships are beneficial for DCA, for our partners, and for the entire Door County community. If your group is interested in renting DCA for a performance or event, give us a call at 920.868.2728. We look forward to sharing more music, memories, and stories in the seasons to come!

Peninsula Arts and Humanities Alliance, Inc., which contributes Culture Club throughout the summer season, is a coalition of non-profit organizations whose purpose is to enhance, promote and advocate the arts, humanities and natural sciences in Door County.