Downtown Hastings will soon have a new anchor for the arts, thanks to a $300,000 grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.
"The Lark" is a program that will provide arts programming for people of all ages and economic levels in the community. The basis will be the "The Listening Room" performances, which will be twelve throughout the year, of acoustic artists, traveling from all over the country, and the programs will build on that," explained Adams County Convention and Visitors Bureau staff member Kaleena Fong.
The creation of "The Lark" performing arts center will be funded in part by the grant, which will go to renovate and transform the old J.M. McDonald department store into a multipurpose home for arts and performance groups.
Proponents of Hastings' downtown development say the grant will add to an artistic and cultural mix that's much more than just Kool-Aid.
Officials say that mix is likely to attract a steady stream of visitors to Hastings, which is the intended aim of the tourism development grant.
"This will be a state of the art acoustic performance space. It would be a prime space for classical concerts, for theater productions, anyone needing a great acoustic space," said Liz Halsted of The Listening Space performing arts series.
The performing arts center will offer rental office space for arts groups, bolstering downtown activity.
Tourism professionals say "The Lark" will fill an element missing to attract visitors to Hastings, and capture their business.
"That there's not only places for people to shop, but places for them to eat, and places for them to go and be entertained. And The Lark would fill that component," Kaleena Fong said.