HISTORY OF DUBOIS AREA CONCERTS (now known as the DuBois Concert Association)

 

            The earliest beginnings of a Concert Association in the DuBois Area goes back to 1911, when the DuBois Chautauqua was formed, and for twelve years was conducted by the “Coit-Alber Management”.  For another two years, the “Swartmore Chautauqua Talent” conducted business.  During this period the programs and contracts were under the control of “Guarantors”.  One Guarantor who served from the inception was Colson E. Blakeslee, who also served as the Secretary.  The DuBois Chautauqua disbanded at the end of the 1925 season.  Programs for the next two years were underwritten and presented by various organizations, but no organized body was in existence.  In 1927, the Civic Arts was organized and continued until 1936, when Gordon Adams organized the Civic Arts Society.  It continued in existence until January of 1952, with the exception of the World War II years.  In 1940, Mr. Adams directed two independent programs – “The Symphonic Choir” and “The DuBois Symphonic Orchestra”.  The first affiliation with Community Concerts came in 1952 and continued until 1955.  At that time, the Board of Directors voted to affiliate with the Civic Concert Association.  During 1960 and 1961 several groups “courted” our Association, among them “United Audience Service, a Division of United Performing Arts, Inc.” and “Summy-Birchart Company, who purchased the Civic Concert Association.  After much discussion by the Board, they decided to re-affiliate with Community Concerts of New York in January of 1963.  (The original Community Concerts of New York disbanded in the 2003 and our organization continues on as a stand-alone entity)

 

            The concerts were held up until 1952 in the old DuBois High School, (presently the Junior High School on Liberty Boulevard).  From 1952 until 1963, the Avenue Theater on Long Avenue was “home” to all concert presentations, and in 1964, after the new Senior High School was built on Orient Avenue; it became the staging area for all concerts.  Most of the concerts in recent years are now held at the DuBois Middle School.

 

            Some of the New York Representatives who have given DuBois valuable assistance since our affiliation with Community Concerts have been:  Camilia Campbell, Nelle Flynn, Bob Stafford, Don Weigand, Jack Howells, Rebecca Hill, John Sheldon, Mary Ebert, and presently, Sean Casey.  These “Reps” come to our concert booking meetings and help the Board sort through all the available artists, giving us background information on them, so we can make our selections according to what we feel fits the cultural needs in our area.

 

            Various places in DuBois that have served as Campaign Headquarters have been: Beers Music Store, the Flake Room of the Encore Inn, YMCA, Loft Room, the Hotel DuBois, the Deposit Bank Community Meeting Room, and the United Way Boardroom.

 

            Some memories gleaned from letters and minutes over the years:  One early year, a spring campaign was conducted and only 200+ memberships were sold, so another campaign was held in the fall.  Svetlova, the ballet dancer, performed at the old High School on the Boulevard, and her exquisite costumes got terribly filthy on the old stage.  One of the New York Reps., who often pulled out his knitting during some of the meetings of the Board, impressed those members.  Much of the campaign work used to be written by hand in the home of whomever was in charge of the campaign, and campaign workers numbered as high as 175 in earlier years.  At one time going to a concert was a “special event” and long gowns and furs were in abundance.  Today the workers number around 25, and every type of clothing is seen at concerts.

 

            Membership in the Association has varied over the years.  In 1975, a membership high of 1,181 was achieved.  As in the case of all organizations, there are ups, and of course, downs, and the low point in the last 48 years came in 1983, when there were 421 members.  For the 2011-2012 season, the membership stands at 480.

 

            In years past, there have been as many as four concerts in one season, but for the most part, there are three local concerts.  For many years, we have enjoyed reciprocity with three other area concert groups, which enable our members to attend anywhere from twelve to fourteen concerts with their membership each year.  We have long said that “you can’t buy anything better for the money” and this certainly appears to be true.  The cost of memberships, always a bargain, was $6.00 for adults, and $3.00 for students in 1952.  After changing numerous times over the years, the cost in 2012 is $45.00 for adults, and students are admitted free with an adult.  The Association also provides some free student memberships to many of the area schools.  We also have a Patron membership at $75, a Sponsor (4 tickets) at $225, and Benefactors – Gold (6 tickets) at $300, and Platinum (8 tickets) at $500.

 

            In order to promote memberships, the Association has had receptions after several of the concerts, and this has proved to be an enjoyable time for members to meet and greet the artists in an informal setting.  Another popular benefit instituted in recent years has been a 10% discount for members if they dine out prior to or after a concert at DuBois Diner, Luigi’s Ristorante, Eat n' Park and Perkins Restaurant & Bakery.

 

            For many years, the Association had attempted, but never completed, application to file for a tax-exempt status with the IRS.  In April of 1992, after much time-consuming work, the exemption was finally received, and we are now recognized as tax-exempt under Section 501©(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, effective back to May 11, 1959, the date of our application with the State of Pennsylvania for a Charter and the filing of our Articles of Incorporation.

 

In 1972, W. R. “Mac” McClure completed a history of the Association and we have included some of his research in this article.

 

The purpose of our Association as stated in the By-laws is:  To build and maintain a permanent concert audience, to cultivate interest in good music and encourage the performance by qualified artists in the form of concerts and recitals; and to foster and encourage public appreciation of music, including teaching and history of music in the schools.

 

There have been hundreds and hundreds of dedicated volunteers who have given much time and talent over these past 49 years (and the 51 years before), and a grateful thanks is given to them by the community and surrounding area of DuBois for their loyalty to high ideals.

 

It is to all of these fine people who have been a part of our history that we dedicate these thoughts:  May this devotion to, and love of, the community and fine music continue on by all of those who follow after us in years yet to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At present, we consider this to be our 49th upcoming season since our affiliation with Community Concerts in 1963, but also it could be considered our 100th year of providing musical concerts, since the original DuBois Chautauqua was formed in 1911.
 
The "mission" of the DuBois Concert Association states that "the purpose of the DuBois Area Community Concert Association shall be to build and maintain, through a nonprofit plan, a permanent concert audience in DuBois and its surrounding area;  cultivate in the citizens of this area an interest in good music and encourage the performance therein of good music by qualified artists;  provide an opportunity for the aforementioned citizens to hear good music in the form of concerts and recitals, of which there will be a minimum of three presented annually;  and to foster and encourage public appreciation and teaching of music in the schools of DuBois and surrounding area."  So we have strived to bring to this area the best talents we can afford, so that people living here and people who are considering moving to the area will be attracted to do so, because of what we have to offer.

 

 

 

Eleanor Klees, President, DuBois Area Community Concert Assn., Inc.