By Melanie Mizenko, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — Before a performance of “A Christmas Carol,” the lobby of the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts bustled with 75 people there for the unveiling of the theater’s 25th anniversary capital campaign plaque.
The plaque, built by MLB Advertising, was revealed by Scott Burnside, the chairman of the board of the F.M. Kirby Center, as well as former chairman John Nackley.
The multicolored LED plaque features the names of those who have donated to the campaign over the past five years.
During his remarks, Burnside said he was first tasked with a million-dollar project “before he knew how to say no.” That project restored the lobby to the way it looked in the 1930s.
“This,” he said, pointing to the covered plaque, “was a $5 million campaign.”
Though the center is officially in its 30th year, the campaign was necessary to keep the Kirby open for another 30, said Will Beekman, executive director for the center. “But we’re finishing 2017 stronger than ever,” he said.
Beekman thanked several legislators – state Sen. John T. Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, and state Reps. Karen Boback, R-Harveys Lake; Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre, and Sid Michaels Kavulich, D-Taylor – who were in lobby. During the campaign, state and local elected officials were able to secure a local share account grant to help renovate the center.
Through the grant, the Kirby was able to improve its heating, ventilation and air conditioning, as well as transition over the stage lighting to energy-saving LED bulbs.
The speech was Burnside’s last as chairman of the board. He joked that he had a nine-year term, which turned into 14 years. His term officially ends Dec. 31, said Anne Rodella, the Kirby’s director of sales and marketing.
“I told Will the success (of the Kirby) is programming,” Burnside said, acknowledging the key to “ensure success” was to bring in acts whose names Burnside didn’t recognize. “It’s working.”
Beekman said the Kirby Center is “for the community,” but it also has had longevity in the area “because of the community.”
“That relationship … is on display tonight,” Beekman said, alluding to “A Christmas Carol,” which was scheduled to be performed an hour after the unveiling ceremony.