Rich Howells

VIDEO: Wilkes-Barre Chamber pays tribute to F.M. Kirby Center and all it has given to the community

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At the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce‘s annual dinner on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts was given the 2015 Small Business of the Year Award, and after watching the video they produced for the presentation, it’s easy to see why.

Built in 1937, the downtown Wilkes-Barre venue has plenty of history, but the most exciting time for the theater may be the present. Hosting over 100 events each year, the Kirby Center is busier than it has ever been, welcoming over 70,000 people through its doors and bringing in over $2.6 million in ticket sales in the past year.

As the interviewees note in the video, this has had a positive impact on other downtown businesses, particularly the restaurants and shops, and the community has benefited from over 2,000 tickets donated by the Kirby Center to those who typically cannot afford its shows. Donors have also stepped up to pay for children to attend events after schools cut back on funding such programs.

The Kirby Center continues to attract some of the best shows touring the country that may not have stopped in Northeastern Pennsylvania otherwise while maintaining support for local artists, patrons, and citizens, so the award is clearly well-deserved. After all, without places like this and people like Executive Director Will Beekman to run them so efficiently, NEPA Scene wouldn’t have nearly as much to report on as we do every day.