Main Street class victim of success

Published 1:29 am Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Turnage Theater, located at 150 W. Main St., Washington, was slated to be the beneficiary of this summer’s Main Street Project, a youth-centered initiative started by Laura Scoble. The program’s success exceeded all expectations, Scoble indicated. (WDN Photo/Jonathan Clayborne)

It could be said the Main Street Project was a victim of its own success.
The project was initiated in the spring by local businesswoman Laura Scoble.
Scoble wanted to use the program to give children extra-focused, out-of-school education in the arts, and pass on a monetary benefit to the Turnage Theater.
But the program faltered under the sheer weight of interest, drawing just under 100 children – more than were anticipated, and more than Scoble’s arts instructors could reasonably accommodate.
Initially, class sizes were to be limited to 15 students.
“That wasn’t possible with the influx that happened even after we began,” Scoble said.
This isn’t the end of the road, though.
“We found out that there is in fact a want for this kind of program,” an undaunted Scoble said.
Originally scheduled to last 10 weeks, the project closed up early, but not permanently.
Scoble hopes to revive the proven success that is the Main Street Project with a paid, full-time administrator, as soon as she can pin down grants to fund the undertaking.
“I was thrilled to death with the volunteers who volunteered their time, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to do that,” Scoble remarked.
If all goes well, she anticipates bringing the happening back this fall, when students return to school.
“I think it’s a good idea that needs to happen – you know, strike while the iron’s hot,” Scoble commented.
Scoble is a professionally trained musician and Washington restaurateur who jumped into action when she learned the nonprofit Turnage Theaters Foundation needed additional funding to keep the theater’s doors open.
In May, she drew back the curtain on the arts course she and her instructors designed as a way to generate money for the Turnage. The foundation’s money was going to come out of ticket proceeds from an onstage performance to wrap up the youths’ crafts-to-acting instruction.
Now, Scoble says a close-of-course performance by the Main Street students might not be the way to go – experience has taught her that making children zero in on the show would orient things too strongly toward the end result.
One of the objectives of the program is to share a broad but intensive appreciation of the arts, she suggested.
“It was a learning curve for everybody,” Scoble said.
Scotty Henley, executive director of the Turnage foundation, hailed the project as a success, despite its premature ending.
“It did bring some children into the theater that I know I had never seen before,” Henley said. “Whenever we have new people, new families, new kids come into the theater that gives them a chance to go back home, talk about their experience and hopefully encourage others to come.”
And there’s no doubt about the program’s success.
“It was more successful, I would believe would be the right way of saying it, than was anticipated,” Henley said, nodding toward Scoble’s ongoing search for grants.
“I hope that will go that way because I sense that the Turnage Theater is a great avenue and outlet for after-school programming, children’s development in the arts in many forms, whether it’s sculpture or painting or musical,” Henley concluded.