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Fine art center to see community usage

Construction work continues on the new fine arts center on Tuesday afternoon in Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)

With only a few months left until completion on the Mitchell School District's 67,000-square-foot performing arts center, other area groups are looking to see how they can also utilize the space.

The new Fine Arts Center, which has a move-in date set for winter break, features a 1,200-seat theater, a new classroom wing and more space for the district's fine arts.

But it might be more than just the district using the space.

Superintendent Joseph Graves said there is a policy that allows the community use of K-12 facilities. The policy states "the board may rent or grant the use of school facilities or land belonging to the District for any purpose which it may deem to be advisable as a community service for such compensation as it may determine, provided that such use shall not interfere with school activities."

To use the facility, Graves said the community group or organization works with the district for scheduling and handling the fee set forth by the district.

Graves said the district has first priority, followed by the city and then other groups, such as the Mitchell Area Community Theatre. But since the center is not completed yet, Graves said the district is not scheduling too far in advance.

Megan Reimnitz, the managing director of the ACT, said if there was an opportunity to partner with the school district in an upcoming production, it would "love to."

"I can't speak for the full board, but I think we would be open to an opportunity, I just don't know what that opportunity would entail. Whether it be a partnership to bring in a touring performer, or a need for the extra seating," she said. "Just depends on what doors open to us."

The ACT has at least five performances each season, with a mix of musicals and plays in the Pepsi Cola Theatre. The group also brings in other performers, special events and children's theater.

The Pepsi Cola Theatre seats 391, at top capacity, Reimnitz said. The venue also has a state-of-the-art light and sound system, so there isn't much need to go outside of the facility right now, she said.

"But as I said, we are always open to new opportunities," Reimnitz said.

Graves said, as of Tuesday, everything remains on track for the Fine Arts Center to be completed in December.

The grand opening for the center has been tentatively set for Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. During the ceremony, Graves said the district will be recognizing many donors and contributors of the performing arts center, which has been under construction since June 2015.