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A place to perform for Our Town Solon

Voters passed $25.5 million bond vote in 2014, part of the money to pay for Solon Center for the Arts
Updated: Jul. 13, 2021 at 6:30 PM CDT
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SOLON, Iowa (KCRG) – Imagine a high school auditorium that seats about two times the high school’s enrollment.

The Solon Center for the Arts is a slice of a $25.5 million bond referendum that district voters easily passed in 2014. A new intermediate school and special education classrooms made up a majority of the approved money.

Yet Keith Duster, the technical director for the “CFA,” as it’s known in Solon, is quick to praise the opportunities this building allows.

“The old facility was part of the old middle school,” Duster said. “It sat about 400 people.”

The “new” and, again, this is relative compared with the facilities auditorium, seats 806 people. Solon High School has about 450 students. That’s quite a crowd to welcome for the big productions.

“This gives the opportunities for the students that they couldn’t have and gives the community a more professional department,” Duster said.

Izzy Paisley is one of those students, as a junior at Solon. She also works in the tech department at the CFA.

“Deciding when the lights change and when the scenery moves,” Paisley said, describing her workload behind the scenes.

Ask anyone in a school production about the chemistry that’s needed for a successful outcome. It requires understanding that goes beyond the grades and even the roles. Paisley talked about how the older students helped craft and nurture the love for theatre when she was younger.

“What they loved about the theatre, they brought to us about our love of the theatre and you create a lot of memories here,” Paisley said.

Simply walking through the front door of the CFA, directly to the right of the high school entrance, gives one a sense of the grandeur of this building. An expansive lobby, brimming with natural light before walking into the auditorium itself. Comfortable seats, precise lighting, and a large stage to inspire the best of the performers and the tech specialists.

“During the school year, we’re devoted to concerts, plays, and school events,” Duster said. “The summer and other times, some have used the facility. ACT in Iowa City has had their annual meetings two years in a row and the students ran it all.”

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