Helena is a small town with a big city flavor. Helena has a population of 25,780, with a county population of 55,716. Adjoining counties of Jefferson and Broadwater are 10,049 and 4,385, respectively. One reason for the extensive arts interest in the community is the presence of the Myrna Loy Center for the Performing and Media Arts. For almost 25 years, the Center has been an active community member, engaging community and statewide groups with films, performances, and workshops that are meaningful to their constituencies. Helena's interest in the arts is borne out by an interesting fact - the local newspaper, The Independent Record, enjoys its highest readership and distribution on Friday, the day the local arts/cultural insert, Your Time, appears.
The mission of the Myrna Loy Center is to present the arts, including media, performing, literary and visual, in an educational context, with challenging and culturally enriching programs that would not otherwise appear in the Helena area or in Montana.
Historically, Helena has been a regional center for performance and access to the performing arts. In the frontier days in the 1860's and 1870's traveling troupes and western theater companies passed through Helena or took up part-time residency during the winter months. Helena and Butte, MT, became convenient railroad stops for the best of vaudeville entertainment traveling between Chicago and Seattle from the 1880's to 1920's. Through the early 1960's several grand old vaudeville/movie houses hosted the best of national touring companies. In the early 1970's, Helena had a need for an organization that could be a link to the past and provide new performance and art experiences to an eager audience.
The Myrna Loy Center began as the Helena Film Society in 1976 to provide alternative cinema to a small city far from major urban centers. Located on the second floor of a historic office building in downtown Helena, Second Story Cinema soon became home to various community arts projects, including theatre, poetry, satirical revues, multimedia, and musical events.
The Series for the Performing Arts began in 1979, presenting traditional and innovative works by culturally diverse artists of national stature. Bringing performing artists from faraway places not only brought a unique entertainment resource to Helena; it also nurtured local and regional artists and created opportunities for arts and humanities education in the community.
With a 1985 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Advancement grant, the Center completed a major capital campaign that resulted in the opening of the Myrna Loy Center, located in the historic Lewis and Clark County Jail in downtown Helena, Montana. The Myrna Loy Center officially opened in 1991. The Center then completed a NEA Challenge Grant that resulted in a growing Endowment of over $688,000 in cash and a Charitable Remainder Trust.
In 1994, the Myrna Loy Center and founding director Arnie Malina won the Fannie Taylor "Career Achievement" award from the association of Performing Arts Presenters, (APAP). In 1997 the Center received the Governor's Award for the Arts for service in the Arts "essential to the cultural life of Montana."
In the past 13 years, the organization has sponsored over 650 live performance to this rural underserved population. It presents films daily and provides arts and media education to local schools and to residents. During this last fiscal year, July 2002 to June 2003, the Myrna Loy enjoyed its best year ever for attendance at the films-- over 26,000 patrons. A program for arts in the schools received national recognition this from the Dana Foundation and the Kennedy Center. Our current Live Performance Events and Films can be reviewed by visiting our web pages. Every Monday during the summer months as well as other times during the week, the Myrna Loy presents great entertainment through its Mondays at the Myrna Plus More! live performance series.
It has presented and produced/commissioned arts events of national significance including the recent "Geyser Land," "A Métis Legacy," "performance of Jennifer Monson's Flight of the Mind," and Paul Dresher/Zeitgeist's Sound Stage. It is a central contact for artists, performing, visual, media, literary for Montana and has sponsored numerous statewide events that bring together artists for performance, display, and discussion. It maintains strong national ties with many artists, who have performed here. It especially is involved the creation of new work that grows out of collaboration with Montana and national artists. In the last year it received grants from the following organizations and from the Montana Arts Council, the Montana Committee for the Humanities, Chamber Music America, National Endowment for Arts, the National Alliance of Media Arts and Culture, NEA-US Forest Service Rural Arts Initiative, the Wallace Funds, the Surdna Foundation, Allen Foundation for the Arts, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Altria Foundation, NEA Jazz Master, Meet the Composer, the National Dance Project, and the National Performance Network. A special highlight of the past year, the Myrna Loy Center was chosen as one of seventeen organizations to receive four-year support from the Doris Duke Midsize Presenting Organization grant in a competitive national pool of applicants. Community support for the Myrna Loy has always been remarkably strong. This year, our membership campaign has recruited more than 500 members. The Myrna Loy Center recently completed a special project, "Echoes of Discovery," a major initiative that supported the creation of contemporary art projects for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. In the summer and fall of 2005, the MLC presented 7 special performances events tied to this commemoration including its major national project on the Missouri River, PORTAL with Project Bandaloop and music by Philip Aaberg. The Myrna Loy Center has many special performance projects in the works including a Summer Solstice performance of Jennifer Monson's Flight of the Mind and new works by Reggie Wilson, the National Theater for the Handicapped, and Wally Cardona & Phil Kline.
The Center showcases its productions in a variety of venues. Smaller, more intimate productions -- theater, dance, jazz, folk, performance art and cinema -- are presented in the 250-seat proscenium arch theater and the 50-seat screening room of the Myrna Loy Center. There is also a small art gallery located adjacent to the box office. Larger productions are presented in the 1700-seat Helena Civic Center. Special programs have been presented in community schools, churches, bars, and other gathering spaces.
Board of Directors
MLC/HP is governed by up to a 21-member Board of Directors.
Myrna Loy Center's Strategic Plan
MAP TO THE MYRNA LOY CENTER
Myrna Loy Center
15 North Ewing
Helena, Montana 59601
Office: (406) 443-0287 Fax: (406) 443-6620
Copyright © 2000-2007, Myrna Loy Center. All rights reserved.