Although the basketball hoops and Yello-Jackets team logo are still there — the gym in the Methow Valley Community Center has evolved into a first-rate venue for music, theater and other events.
The auditorium boasts 12 new LED lights, the latest upgrade in the Better Space Project launched a decade ago, community center Executive Director Kirsten Ostlie said. The lighting system alone has been in the works for two years, she said.
Staff and volunteers from the community center, Cascadia Music, local theaters, and a student from the Independent Learning Center all received training last week in running the state-of-the-art lights.
Although there are just 12 lights — six above the stage and six in front of it, the sophisticated, computerized system allows for 16 million colors and configurations. The lights can be set individually or in groups, Ostlie said.
The new lights are safer, don’t get hot, and use less energy. They’re also user-friendly, so anyone who rents the room for an event can easily learn to design and operate a customized lighting regime, Ostlie said.
The system stores preset lighting schemes that can be activated at the push of a button. Groups that rent the auditorium can customize their own design and store it on a computer flash drive.
The ceiling lights in front of the stage are protected by cages to accommodate other gym activities and protect the lights from stray basketballs. Those lights can also be rotated and re-aimed, although that isn’t remote controlled — it requires a scissor lift to reach the ceiling.
The lights were made possible by generous donations over three years — $25,500 from grants through the Give Methow campaign, a $1,500 gift from the Methow Valley Theater, and more than $5,000 from the Community Center to upgrade the wiring. Pacific Northwest Theatre Associates helped design the system and led the training.
Performances in the gym have been greatly enhanced in recent years, thanks to acoustical panels installed in 2016. The auditorium also has a new sound system and projector, curtains, and a completely remodeled kitchen.
The gym can be rented for performances and events.