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Erika Juran stepped into the role of Carlisle Regional Performing Arts Center’s first executive director days before a concert by the PettyBreakers at the historic venue in downtown Carlisle.

Since then, the theater has hosted more concerts, performances of the play “Boogieban,” special movie presentations and, of course, the films in its Hollywood on High series. It's December production of the play, "It's A Wonderful Life," is coming up Dec. 19-22.

It’s been a busy two months for Juran.

Juran has served in nonprofit leadership for more than 18 years. Most of that time was in the arts sector. As a past executive director of the Perry County Council of the Arts, she led programming that included spoken word, poetry recitation, local and regional live music, an arts summer camp and arts in education programming in seven counties as a partner with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Under her leadership, the Perry council increased its grant funding, public art, programming, strategic partnerships, income generation, and its teaching and member artist roster, both in size and diversity.

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Q. What part of your role as the executive director do you find the most compelling?

A. As an executive director, I serve as a steward for the future of the organization. I both support and partner with our board of directors to strengthen the organization’s resources and operations. We have a shared commitment to the success of this special place and its programming. Our plans seek to help this place thrive in perpetuity. We work to build the place that people that haven’t even found us yet might need. Supporting our board in its strategic direction and challenging them to create the biggest vision possible, that’s what I love.

Q. What role does a facility like this play in the downtown?

A. Our theater has been loved by generations and holds lots of memories. With our attractive marquee shining outside and beautiful art deco style interior, we have been called “the Gem of Carlisle.” Our community members use our theater for private and public events and meetings. Our programming seeks to bring our community together, whether in a live production like our upcoming family-friendly Players on High presents “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or through our concerts, events, and films, which can inspire, provoke, and entertain. We love being a draw for Carlisle. We also know we’re just a part of the equation. There are so many great shops, restaurants, and amenities to continually attract locals and “weekenders” and keep them coming back.

Q. Now that you have been here a few months, what have you seen as potential challenges for the theater?

A. Our opportunities absolutely abound. We seek to serve our whole community, and there are still many that haven’t yet enjoyed our programming. Many know us as a movie theater, but don’t realize that we are the Carlisle Regional Performing Arts Center, with much more programming. We’d like to see more of our community members reaping the personal and health benefits of their artistic expression. Our programming includes plays and musicals, educational opportunities and workshops. So many of us are creative beings that haven’t realized it yet.

Our opportunities include not just stronger community engagement, but keeping our theater in shape physically and technologically so we can best serve our mission.

Q. What is your vision for the future of the theater?

A. My vision for this place is boundless. We already serve as a regional draw to Carlisle, and we love working in tandem with local businesses towards the success of our county seat. Our area is both close-knit and laser-beam-focused on its success. We have many potential collaborators and partners. Our space and our programming will continue to address our community’s concerns through the arts.

In this age of Netflix, our community craves connection. I would like to see our film offerings serve as a catalyst for conversation and connection. The arts have the ability to draw together people of diverse backgrounds, opinions and stances. I hope that we can be the “hub” for this kind of connection.

Q. How can the community best support the work of the theater?

A. Our theater cannot exist without its community. We need you to engage. Come and enjoy and be a part of what we offer. Bring your friends and family. Stay in touch. Tell us what you’d like to see, and be a part of our success towards making it happen. We want you to share your time and talent with us. There are so many fun ways we engage volunteers at every age, ability, and on whatever schedule.

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Email Tammie at tgitt@cumberlink.com. Follow her on Twitter @TammieGitt.

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