Groups “Side by Side” for “Shanks Arts Center” Benefit

Groups “Side by Side” for “Shanks Arts Center” Benefit

Posted: Monday, March 28, 2011 8:03 pm

Five Cumberland County non-profit arts groups will develop a “Shanks Arts Center” in Crossville’s old LP Shanks Company warehouse, a 1900’s-era city block across from the Crossville Depot.  It includes the shell of the town’s first (1920’s) movie house (Mecca Theater, and Cosby Harrison’s early auto dealership). “Side by Side”, a Benefit Cabaret at Cumberland County Playhouse (CCP) on Thursday, April 28 at 8pm, honors the LP Shanks Family and Scot and Julie Shanks, donors of the building to CCP, so CCP’s Board can offer office space to launch the nonprofit partnership and Arts Center.  Scot’s parents, Doris and the late Paul Shanks helped build the company, and siblings Paula Myers, Kirk Shanks and Lainie Luse remain involved.
Partners, working as the Rural Nonprofit Arts Business Center, are Crossville Arts Council (CAC), Performing Arts Alliance of Rural TN (PAART), Cumberland Artisans for Creative Expression (CACE), Downtown Crossville, Inc (DCI) and Cumberland County Playhouse (CCP).  PAART founder Deb Mendenhall is first group Chair.  Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham III endorsed the Partners for a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey expressed interest.  More nonprofit partners are possible.

The Cabaret “Side by Side”, on April 28 at CCP, begins fundraising for joint programming, facility costs, and honors the Shanks Family’s civic spirit.  The Partners plan restoration/renovation of spaces facing Main Street, plus potential program areas not fully used by CCP.  “Side by Side”, in the spirit of CCP’s ’06 and ’10 Palace benefits for Crossville Arts Council, will feature special guests and CCP stars Jason Ross, Nicole Bégué Hackmann, Nate Hackmann, Weslie Webster, Greg and Lindy Pendzick, and more.
The city block was given to CCP in 2002 by LP Shanks Company & family, led by Scot and Julie Shanks. “This gift has tripled CCP’s annual revenue (to $100K) from nationwide scenic/costume rentals warehoused there, and we’ve stabilized the historic building,” notes past CCP Chair Rob Harrison of Plateau Properties. “Jim Crabtree offered this plan, and CCP’s board agreed it supports downtown renovation, and offers office and program space to nonprofits in need.”  Crabtree credits leadership of Sharron Eckert, RG Cravens, Regina Hurst, Tonya Hinch and Deb Mendenhall, and the early “arts center vision” of Judy Pearson, past Crossville Arts Council president.
Prime ”Side by Side” seats for “Charter Friends of The Shanks Arts Center” are at CCP Ticketing in $50 and $25 per seat sections.  Purchasers become “Charter Friends” of the Center, and are invited to events, workdays, openings, festivities and get e-newsletters.  General side section seating is $15.  Proceeds support combined partner efforts and the center, which will have its own bank accounts.  CCP’s audited accounting system will at first serve as fiscal agent, while partners explore an umbrella nonprofit 501c3.  Records are transparent to partners, and each may lead key projects.  CCP General Manager, Janet Kluender, with CCP Board and auditors, will oversee.
Old freezer rooms will be cafe/cabaret “THE FREEZER-the Coolest Place in Town.” Galleries and education programs are planned with CACE and CAC leadership, plus a ticketing center, and creative retail space.  For DCI the Center is an event staging area.  Studios/classrooms are planned by PAART, CCP and others.  Groups will continue solo projects while adding joint programs.  Open House for Friends to see the facilities before development will be held in cooperation with DCI’s Taste of Crossville on May 20, Cruise-In May 28, and on adjacent days.   
“Side by Side” Cabaret Benefit tickets are available online at or by calling 931-484-5000.  Upcoming events are PAART’s Palace concerts by Gypsy Hombres (April 1) and The Dean Martinis (April 16), CACE’s Youth Expo (April 9) at the Community Complex, DCI’s A Taste of Crossville and Cruise-In (May 20 and 28), and CCP shows The Perils of Pinocchio through April 1, The Silver Whistle through April 15, Tuesdays with Morrie through May 12, and My Fair Lady through June 9.

Posted 3.28.11

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