Press Releases

Press Releases

Arroyo Grande, CA April 27, 2012


The Clark Center Foundation is a key member of the unique partnership between the Clark Center Foundation, Lucia Mar Unified School District and the Clark Center Association in the operation and use of the Clark Center for the Performing Arts. The Clark Center Foundation is committed to building and strengthening performing arts programs within the School District and the entire South County by its multi-faceted involvement in that mission.

Through generous endowments from supporters of the Center, the Clark Center Foundation has established a program of annual performing arts scholarships and grants for students and teachers in Lucia Mar Unified School District. Since 2004 over $119,000 in schoalrships and grants has been awarded to sixty-nine students and teachers in the areas of song, dance, instrumental, acting, and theater operation skills, which have helped graduating students continue with chosen fields in the arts. Some, including past recipients Katie Boeck and Joanne Jones, have achieved significant success as performers.

The Arts in Education Outreach Program, funded by the Clark Center Foundation, provides live performances free of charge at the Clark Center for younger sutdents of the School District who might otherwise never have the opportunity to attend such performances, and to introduce them to the world of performing arts. These programs not only enrich the students’ education, but open up to many of them a desire and dedication to pursue the arts.

A major function of the Clark Center Foundation is the providing of funds through its Endowment Program for the maintenance, repair and replacement of elements of the Clark Center and all of the operating equipment in the Center. The Clark Center Foundation reqularly provides funding for such items as updating of lighting and sound system components, backstage storage facilities, backstage furnishings, and the heating and air conditioning system. The recent expansion of the Center to incorporate new dressing rooms, stage prop storage, and offices was funded by over $2,000,000 provided by the Clark Center Foundation. Contributors to the Endowment Fund are recognized by membership in the Foundation’s Encore Society and by having the names of major donors placed on the lobby wall in the Center.

The Clark Center Foundation continues to play a vital role in the musical life of many talented young artists, has brought the joy of the theater to young audiences, and maintains a state of the art performing arts center for the entire Central Coast community. As the Center celebrates its 10th Anniversary, the Clark Center Foundation invites you to join the ranks of the many prestigious supporters and to take your place in the Encore Society by making a tax-deductible contribution to its Endowment Fund. Your gift or bequest of any size will be a lasting legacy.

Arroyo Grande, CA April 27, 2012

CLARK CENTER FOUNDATION ~ THE DREAM written by Joe Brittingham

2012 marks a very significant milestone for one of our local architectural gems for SLO’s south county. This May, the Clark Center Foundation will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Clark Center for the Performing Arts in Arroyo Grande. It is at this time that the Clark Center Foundation would like to share with the community how this magnificant dream became a reality.

Over 25 years ago, Grover Beach attorney Clifford Clark and his wife Mary Lee attended a musical event at Arroyo Grande High School. This performance was held in the school gymnasium as there was no auditorium on the campus for performances. Afterwards, Clifford and Mary Lee hatched an idea that attracted the support of the community and donors to give us what we now call the Clark Center for the Performing Arts in Arroyo Grande California.

The Clarks noticed that the acoustics in a gymnasium were not ideal for musical or other performances. They recalled sitting on wooden bleachers and recognized that the odor of a gymnasium would not bring the type of audience experience that performers would seek. They decided that the community deserved better and conceived the dream of a state of the art auditorium on the campus.

They embarked on what would become a lengthy, complex, and obstacle ridden course to develop their dream into a reality. Through many discussions with the Lucia Mar Unified School District and with other influential people in the community, they succeeded in launching the Clark Center Foundation, and set out to raise funds for the community. During this time, involved and complicated arrangements between the district and the Clark Center Foundation regarding productions, use of the Center by the community, and ongoing financial assistance from the Clark Center Foundation emerged. Ir was determined tha the Clark Center Foundation would have an ongoing role in overseeing the operation of the Center and to provide financial support for necessary upgrades and operational needs.

As the architectural plans wre prepared, the decision was made that seating capacity would be approximately 625 people (Forbes Theater), together with a smaller “black box theater” seating up to 200 people. Major donors were sought, who are today recognized on the lobby wall of the Center. A number of fundraising efforts were successful at gaining the much needed support of the community. After some initial fundraising, the Clark Center Foundation continued its capital campaign through the efforts of Ron and Bernice Kautz. Outright gifts and bequests were secured and sufficient funds made plans to proceed with construction possible. After approximately $9,000,000 of capital expenditures, the Clark Center construction was completed and the Clark Center became officially dedicated in 2002 as the South County’s only state of the art performing arts center.

Arroyo Grande, CA – January 24, 2010


The Nipomo High School Drama Department has been selected to perform next August in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, the world’s largest and most prestigious arts festival. They will be part of the American High School Theatre Festival. Nominated by PCPA, the Drama Department competed with 3,000 applicants from across the United States. Only 3% of nominated schools were invited to attend.

Shown are the Nipomo High School cast members of the Musical Comedy Nunsense which they will perform during their two week stay. Bottom row, left to right: Kyra Meko, Rachelle Williams, Jackie Williams. Middle row, Nolan Pugh, Holly Paterson, Paul Olson, Andy Katz. Missing is Jenna Butz. Also, in the top row, Robin Metchik, the director of the show and head of the Drama Department, Carol Rust and Bernie Kautz, members of the Clark Center Foundation. Mrs. Kautz is the President of the Clark Center Foundation and Mrs. Rust was recently given the Ken Talley Award for “Service to the Youth of Our Community”. The Foundation built and maintains the Clark Center and provides Performing Arts scholarships for local High School seniors.  The Foundation has donated $6,000 to Nipomo High School Drama Department to help finance the trip.

The Fringe Festival attracts hundreds of thousands of international theatre enthusiasts and includes over 1,800 different performances of music, theatre, dance and comedy. The Nipomo students, in addition to performing themselves, will experience shows from around the world as well as sightseeing in Scotland and England, including Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London’s West End Theatre district and Stirling Castle.

About half the money needed to send these youngsters to Scotland has been raised. They could use some help. Any donations would be happily accepted. Please send contributions to:  Drama Scholarship Fund, attention Robyn Metchik, Nipomo High School, 525 North Thompson Road, Nipomo, CA  93444.

Thank you. Any questions, please call 473 4858 or contact me by e-mail.
Stewart Moss

Arroyo Grande, CA – April 9, 2010


Five seniors to receive total of $6,500

Five senior performing arts students from Nipomo and Arroyo Grande high schools have been awarded scholarships by the Clark Center Foundation.

Chosen as the finalists in the foundation’s scholarship competition, the five students will be awarded a total of $6,500 for further studies in their chosen areas of the performing arts, a foundation spokesman said.

The students and their schools, scholarship amounts and goals are:
Kirk Bakalis Jr.: Nipomo High School: $2,500 – A saxophone player, Kirk plans to attend a California State University with the goal of becoming a school music teacher.

Scott Fuss: Arroyo Grande High School: $2,500 – A vocalist, Scott has auditioned to attend PCPA in Santa Maria and plans a future in musical theatre.

Kaylee Lewis: Nipomo High School: $$500 – Kaylee, a dancer, hopes to attend UC-Irvine and have a career in a contemporary or ballet dance company.

Daniel Barrett: Arroyo Grande High School: $500 – A new-age composer and performer on instrumental guitar, Daniel plans to attend Cuesta College for two years and transfer to CSU-Fullerton.

Kenneth Hand: Arroyo Grande High School: $500 – Kenneth plans a career in music as a choir teacher and vocal coach. He will continue his education at California Baptist University in Riverside. The scholarships will be presented by Bernie Kautz, president of the Clark Center Foundation, and Peg Miller of Nipomo in late spring at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts in Arroyo Grande.

The Scholarships, conceived to recognize young performers in the arts, are funded through an endowment made possible through the bequest of the Jim O. Miller Memorial Performing Arts Fund and the Melick and Arlene Mendel estate.

Increased endowments and gifts have allowed the program to make more substantial contributions to the education of talented South County graduating seniors.

This is the seventh year the Clark Center Foundation has held its performing arts scholarship competition.

For more information on the endowment fund, call 489-4114 or contact the Clark Center Foundation at P.O. Box 1114, Arroyo Grande, CA 93421.

Arroyo Grande, CA – August 21, 2009


Performing arts supporters and school officials gathered last week to celebrate the completion of the Clark Center Annex, where namesake Clifford Clark wielded giant scissors to cut a ribbon officially opening the building. Bernie Kautz of the Clark Center Foundation also handed the keys to the facility to Jim Hogeboom, superintendent of Lucia Mar Unified School district, during the Aug. 12 ceremony.

Afterward, foundation board members and guests attended a reception in the green room, one of the facilities included in the Annex built onto the west side of the Clark Center for the Performing Arts. Although called the Annex, the building was part of the original plans for the center but, because of funding issues, was built as a second phase using $2 million contributed by various donors.  In addition to the green room, where performers can relax as they await their appearances on stage, the Annex includes a workshop, storage areas, two principal performer dressing rooms and office space for the Clark Center Association, which brings local and touring shows to the center.

The green room also will be available as a meeting room for local businesses and organizations, Kautz said.  The Clark Center began as the dream of Clifford and Mary-Lee Clark, who realized the community needed a performing arts center after attending several shows in the Arroyo Grande High School gym. Building the center became a communitywide endeavour, with construction eventually funded by the Clark Center Performing Arts Foundation using seed money form estate bequests supplemented by donations and fundraisers.

The center opened in May 2002 on the AGHS campus and was subsequently given to the Lucia Mar Unified School District, which uses it for student productions and training. The center houses two theatres – Forbes Hall, which seats approximately 600 guests, and the Studio Theatre, which seats approximately 150. The Clark Center Foundation is committed to maintaining and enhancing the center, as well as promoting the arts and providing scholarships for local students to pursue arts careers.

To achieve those goals, the foundation has established an endowment fund with a goal of $10 million.

For more information on donating to the endowment fund, contact the foundation at 489-4114 or visit, click on “About the Center”, then on “Planned Giving.”

For information on using the green room, contact Lucia Mar Theatre manager Barry Hamlin at 473-3000, Ext. 2266 or

Arroyo Grande, CA – June 23, 2009


“It’s an easy way for each of us to make an important difference in the future of South County.”  That’s how the Clark Center Foundation characterizes gifts and bequests to the Clark Center Endowment Fund. Funds coming into the Endowment Fund are held permanently in income-producing investments, and the earnings are used for the perpetual maintenance and updating of the Clark Center for the Performing Arts in Arroyo Grande, including the building itself and all of its furnishings, sound system, lighting, and other facilities, and also for arts scholarships and support for the arts in general.

“Under its unique partnership with Lucia Mar Unified School District, which operates the Center, the Foundation, which originally raised the money to build the Center and also the annex currently under construction, also took on the task of keeping up the Center as a state-of-the-art performing arts center”, said Steve Cool, chair of the Endowment Committee. “Every dollar given to the Endowment Fund is combined with other gifts and is held so that principal is never touched. It’s like planting a tree, which over the years grows and bears more and more fruit”. Recognizing that many South County residents are scrutinizing their finances carefully during these economic times, Cool pointed out that gifts to the Endowment are deductible for income and estate tax purposes, and may be made as a bequest from the giver’s estate under their will or trust. “Making a gift from one’s estate sends a powerful message to the community that the donor and his or her family support the Clark Center and the arts in our area”. Cool also pointed out that gifts of $100,000 or more are recognized by placing the donor’s name on the granite wall in the Center’s main lobby.

Anyone interested in more information regarding the Endowment and ways of giving may contact the Clark Center Foundation at 805-481-4114, or by going online to, clicking on “About the Center”, then on “Planned Giving”.

Contact information for news release:
Steve Cool

Arroyo Grande, CA – April 27, 2009


The Clark Center Foundation has once again awarded scholarships to four Nipomo High School performing arts students. The scholarships were funded through an endowment conceived to recognize young performers in the arts. The endowment was made possible through the generous bequests of the Melick and Arlene Mendel estate and the Jim O. Miller Memorial Performing Arts Memorial fund. The scholarships will be presented to the Nipomo High School recipients at the Senior Showcase, Monday, June 8, 2009 at the Clark Center. Bernie Kautz, president of the Clark Center Foundation, and Peg Miller will make the presentations.

The four student finalists will be awarded a total of $9,000 for further studies in their chosen areas of musical theater, singing, dancing and acting. They are, as follows:
Cadence Mitchell –  $2,500. Cadence will attend Cal Poly with the goal of becoming a high school drama teacher.

Rachel Tietz – $2,500. Rachel’s plans include a two-year course at PCPA, followed by a performing career and/or further study in the performing arts.

Frank Soares – $2,000. Frank’s  talents include dancing with aerial silks. Frank is headed for UCLA or Cal State Fullerton for a BFA in Musical Theater as well as a credential for teaching the performing arts.

.Andy Wilson – $2,000. Andy plans to further his studies at UCLA or Cal State Fullerton. Andy’s goal is to work in the performing arts industry doing theater work.

This is the sixth year the Clark Center Foundation has held its performing arts scholarship competition.  Through increased endowments and gifts, the program is able to make substantial contributions to the education of talented South County graduating seniors.  For more information on the Endowment Fund, call 489-4114 or contact the Clark Center Foundation at P.O. Box 1114, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420.

Arroyo Grande, CA – March, 10 2009


Supporters of the Clark Center for the Performing Arts gathered at Rosa’s Restaurant in Pismo Beach for the First Annual Encore Society luncheon on March 4, 2009. Honored guests were welcomed as the first members of the Encore Society for their generous donations and pledges to the Clark Center Foundation Endowment Fund. The Encore Society is made up of individuals and businesses who have donated or pledged $1000 or more to the Clark Center Endowment Fund, which has been established by the Clark Center Foundation to raise $10,000,000 for the permanent maintenance and upgrading of the Center and all of its equipment and furnishings, as well as to provide scholarships in the arts to South County students, and to assist financially the Clark Center Association and the arts in general. Gifts and pledges to the Endowment Fund currently stand at over $3,300,000.

At the luncheon, Barry Hamlin, Theater Manager of the Clark Center, and Connie O’Henley, Manager of the Clark Center Association, spoke to the members on how the Center benefits our community, pointing out that the Center is used for formal events approximately 1 day out of every 3 days, which events include school performances, outside performances, and business meetings.

Persons, who are interested in becoming members of the Encore Society, or in obtaining information on how to donate to the Endowment Fund, may go onto the web site, or by calling 489-4114.

Arroyo Grande, CA – January, 22 2009


Alycia Drube, daughter of Margie and Doug Drube of Grover Beach, has accepted a position at the World Theater in Monterey, California, quite an accomplishment for a freshman student attending the California State University Monterey Bay.  Alycia graduated from Arroyo Grande High School, class of 2008, and while a student was involved in Arroyo Grande High School’s ROP Program, the school’s technical theater arts’ course under the direction of Rick Pierce.  As a high school student volunteer in the ROP Program Alycia volunteered over 180 hours in order to achieve technical and practical training as well as knowledge and learning in theater arts and management.   The acquired valuable experience with her high school’s ROP Program propelled Alycia to become CSU Monterey Bay’s first choice to be the World Theater’s on-campus, paid student employee.  Alycia is continuing with her studies at CSU Monterey Bay citing her stepping stone was her initial contact with the Clark Center’s program that joined interested high school students with an introduction to theater.  It was an obvious bonus to Alycia that Arroyo Grande High School and the Clark Center are side by side on the high school’s campus.  Alycia is proud to be an example of the Clark Center’s purposeful design of reaching out to students who are interested in theater.  The Clark Center is proud to showcase students who are determined to direct their career goal into the arts and theater.

Arroyo Grande, CA – October, 15 2008


Corporate donor, Rabobank has joined the ranks of major donors to the Clark Center Foundation $10 Million Endowment Campaign. Steven L. Harding, Regional President of Rabobank presented a check for $5,000.00 to Bernie Kautz, Foundation President and Steve Cool, Endowment Committee Chair. The Campaign will focus on major gifts and bequests from individuals who support the arts in South County and want to be a part of the Clark Center legacy. The Lucia Mar Unified School District, which originally donated the land for the Center located at Arroyo Grande High School, formed a unique partnership with the Clark Center Foundation which undertook the task of raising the $9,000,000 to build the Center. The Clark Center was gifted to the school district upon its completion. The Clark Center Foundation has committed $2,000,000 in funds to build an annex which is currently under construction, and has also accepted the responsibility for providing the funds necessary for the maintenance and any needed improvements to the Center, to subsidize performances arranged by the Clark Center Association, provide grants and scholarships to deserving students, and to contribute to art events in the community.

The Clark Center for the Performing Arts, a multi-venue Center for music, theater, and dance, opened in 2002, realizing the twenty-five year vision of the Foundation Board. The Center is a multi-state-of-the art facility that creates a dynamic cultural destination for the entire community.

The Clark Center Foundation, which was incorporated in 1985, has launched its endowment campaign to raise $10 million to support the Center. Donations can be an immediate gift of cash or stock, a pledge or a later gift or bequest. Donors who contribute or pledge $1,000 or more will be enrolled in the Clark Center Encore Society and will have their name placed on the Donor Plaque in the lobby of the Center, in addition to other benefits. Benefactors who donate $100,000 or more will have their names inscribed on the granite Donor Wall in the lobby along with the list of donors to the original construction of the Center in addition to other privileges.
To request further information, contact Steve Cool at 550-4971 or e-mail him at Donations can be mailed to: Clark Center Foundation, PO Box 1114, Arroyo Grande, CA 93421.

Arroyo Grande, CA – August 29, 2008 

Foundation supporting center launches $10M endowment campaign by Bettina Adragna-staff writer-Adobe Press

Students, professional artists and community members have had a home in Arroyo Grande through the Clark Center for the Performing Arts, since its opening in 2002, and to help continue that into the future, a foundation supporting the center is launching a $10 million endowment campaign. Community theater groups and local dance studios rent the space according to Connie O’Henley, executive director of the Clark Center Association. Arroyo Grande Hospital used the facility for a cancer seminar; and community members can rent the space for business meetings, workshops or “any event that needs seats and a stage,”  O’Henley said.

But the primary purpose for the center is to giving students in Lucia Mar Unified School District a place to perform plays, musicals, band concerts, choir concerts and talent shows, according to Barry Hamlin, theater manager for the Clark Center. To fund the center’s physical needs, the Clark Center Foundation, which was incorporated in 1985, is launching an endowment campaign to raise $10 million. The interest from the endowment, which will likely be about $600,000 per year, will be enough to pay for light and sound equipment upgrades, roof repairs, updated seat upholstery, lobby decorations, and other maintenance uses. The foundation is primarily seeking pledges and donations of bequests and lifetime gifts from community members.

“Really, the overall goal of the Clark Center is not just to have performances in the center, said Steve Cool, chairman of the endowment  committee for the Clark Center Foundation. “It’s to encourage the performing arts in the South County.” The foundation’s second priority, after funding the building’s physical maintenance, is to subsidize performances for the Clark Association, a separate nonprofit that arranges professional arts performances, if it runs short of funds. The interest could also be used for grants and scholarships for Lucia Mar students who are interested in the arts. Lastly, the foundation could contribute to arts events in the community.

The idea for the Clark Center cam from Cliff and Mary-Lee Clark in the early 1960’s, after they attended a band concert in Arroyo Grande High Schools’ gym, according to Hamlin. They decided that the facility would need to be an asset to the community, as well as the school district.

The school district owns the Clark Center and allows the larger Forbes Hall, which holds 617 people, and the smaller Studio Theater, which holds 120 people, to be rented by individual schools, who can use the space rent-free for a certain number of times. The land for the facility was donated by the school district. After the foundation was incorporated, the organization raised $9 million for construction, which started in 1999. The center was completed in May 2008.

Separately from the endowment campaign, the foundation has already raised $2 million to build an annex that will complete the center according to Cool. The project will include a green-room for performers, bigger dressing rooms, an office for the Clark Center Association, storage space for sets, and an area for set construction. Hamlin called the center “a really huge asset to the school district” and to the arts culture in the area.

“It’s hard to put a dollar value or quantitative measure (on) the arts and how they enrich a community,” Hamlin said, “There’s tons of studies that show that children that are involved in the arts do considerably better in their academics,. Then there’s the value of offering culture to your community … If there wasn’t arts in the area, and they didn’t have this space to perform it, the quality of life and culture in this area would not be nearly as rich as it is now.”

Arroyo Grande, CA – August 1, 2008

BITS ‘N’ PIECES OF NIPOMO by Jacqueline Fredrick, column writer for Adobe Press

The Clark Center Foundation has announced the commencement of its endowment campaign to raise $10 million for the perpetual maintenance and operation of the Clark Center for the performing Arts. The campaign will focus on major gifts and bequests from individuals who support the arts in South County and want to be a part of the Clark Center legacy. The Clark Center Foundation is seeking individual an corporate gifts. Donations can be an immediate gift of cash or stock, or the donor may choose to pledge a gift at a later date, or name the Clark Center Foundation in their estate planning. The Clark Center Foundation maintains a 501©3 status and all gifts are tax deductible in accordance with IRS guidelines. Consider adding a bequest in your will for the Clark Center. For more information on the endowment, including ways of giving and other donor recognition opportunities. Call Steve Cool at 489-7776 or visit the center’s Web Site at

Arroyo Grande, CA – August 1, 2008

CLARK CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS ~ A $10 MILLION GOAL by Dawn White, staff writer, The Telegram Tribune

The foundation running the Arroyo Grande Facility is launching a fundraising campaign to pay for maintenance and improvements that it hopes will attract more performances. To attract more performances, make capital improvements and maintain the facility’s current condition, the Clark Center for the Performing Arts in Arroyo Grande is launching a campaign to raise $10 million.
The money would go toward an endowment fund the center says is needed to keep the $9.2 million facility in the same condition as it was when it was opened in 2002, said Steve Cool, endowment committee chair for the center’s foundation.

The campaign’s launch coincides with the opening of the center’s season on Friday, he said.

The 600-seat auditorium, which is owned by the Lucia Mar Unified School District, is used for school events, seminars, theatrical productions, concerts and special events. The foundation is trying to boost its use by marketing it to brides, more nonprofit groups and companies that could use the center’s many rooms or its little theater.

Earlier this year, the center’s fees were raised for the first time to help offset maintenance costs. Part of the agreement that allowed the center to be built next to Arroyo Grande High School was that students would be able to use the center much of the time for free. Eric Howell, president of the district’s school board, said that fundraising may be the best way to keep the center in goof condition. “The center still looks brand-new,” Howell said. “Especially with the state budget the way it is, an endowment that could help with maintenance would be incredible.”

The center is spending $2.2 million to build an annex and dressing rooms for performing groups. The original design left little space for a separate dressing area and green room, said Barry Hamlin, the theater manager. “When we raided our money to build the entire facility, we didn’t have enough for the green room, prop room, etc.,” Cool said. “Now we want to do right.” Other improvements could include an entrance and foyer area for the little theater and the addition of updated sound and lighting fixtures. The Clark Center is kicking off its season Friday with a production that pays tribute to Ray Charles called “What I’d Say.”

Arroyo Grande, CA – May  5 – 12, 2007


In partnership with the Lucia Mar Unified School District, the Clark Center Foundation not only raised the funds to build the Center but also agreed to provide funds to maintain the beautiful building and state of the art equipment, through its Endowment Committee and Encore Society, the Foundation has committed to raise $10,000.000!

The primary source of these funds will be bequest by community members remembering the Clark Center in their estate planning. The committee is accepting donations and pledges. Pledges can be made for lifetime gifts as well as future bequests. Donors will be recognized at the time of the pledge as well as when funds are contributed.

For more information about the Clark Center Foundation or its Encore Society, call 489-4114 or visit

Clark Center Performing Arts Association