Keeper of the Plans

New east-side school opens for music, theater classes this summer

Local musician Jenny Wood is teaching a class at the new Wichita Center for the Performing Arts this summer. She, along with a faculty of other local performers, will offer classes for kids at the center.
Local musician Jenny Wood is teaching a class at the new Wichita Center for the Performing Arts this summer. She, along with a faculty of other local performers, will offer classes for kids at the center. The Wichita Eagle

School is almost out, which means many Wichita parents are searching for summertime entertainment for kids.

The newly opened Wichita Center for the Performing Arts is equipped for just that.

The center, which occupies the former Mark Arts space at 9112 E. Central, is now enrolling for its first-ever summer classes – on subjects ranging from improv comedy to ballet to chamber music and video storytelling.

Classes are offered for youths between 2 years old and their senior year of high school — and cost between $50 and $295.

Mike Garvey, president of Builders Inc., bought the building in August 2017 with the intent to create a new place for youths to learn about the performing arts.

Think of it as a CityArts concept, but for music and theater.

“We’re trying to engage every type of kid, every socioeconomic class, just to try and give as many people an opportunity and an outlet to perform as we possibly can,” Garvey said. “These summer classes are the way to do it.”

The classes are being taught by a faculty of well-known local performers, including musicians Jenny Wood and Zack Roach and dance instructor Regina Klenjoski.

Wood, who sings in a variety of local bands, including Team Tremolo, and various other projects, is teaching a class on songwriting. It will piggyback off of her popular “Don’t Let Them Get in Your Head” anti-bullying campaign, she said.

“I’m afraid to call it a songwriting class – I want to equip people with poetry, spoken word, creativity of all mediums,” Wood said. “I help them focus what they have in their mind and in their heart and put it on paper.”

Roach, the founder of Free Music ICT, is teaching a Loog Guitar class for children 3-5 years old. He’s been teaching guitar in Wichita since retiring from touring with the band Senses Fail.

There is still plenty of availability for the classes, according to the center’s director, Shelli Kadel — who anticipates classes will fill after word spreads about them.

“We’ve been under construction since we moved in Feb. 1 … and so we can’t really have an open house to let people see where we are,” she said. “That’s limited us a little, but we’ve had a great amount of interest in the last couple of weeks.”

Once summer classes have concluded, the Wichita Center for the Performing Arts plans on offering fall classes, primarily geared toward homeschoolers, Kadel said.

“We’ll hopefully be adding things like master classes as we grow,” she said. “We’re just trying to start at a place that makes sense for families and makes the space open and available, then keep crafting classes as we hear what families need.”

For more information on classes, visit www.wichitacenter.org or call 316-201-6654.

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