When the neighboring unit in our building became available for rent, parents, students, and staff alike all looked a little wistfully and hopefully through the windows at the spacious lobby next door. Executive Director Heather Longhurst took the lead. When it became very clear that the additional costs of rent, utilities, and maintenance of a new space was beyond a sustainable budget, she got creative. She brought our team together, using the graphic design skills of Katie Mecham, the financial reports from our accountant Richard Hardesty, and my own newsiness, to craft a beautiful proposal for a five-year capacity-building grant. In Heather’s own words, “it was a last, Hail Mary attempt at an expansion we couldn’t do on our own.” In my words, it was a brilliant and bold move, and Heather’s best brainchild yet.

The proposal was presented to one of our regular donors, a foundation that prefers to remain anonymous, and was approved within a week. This capacity-building grant will support PBD as it grows into the new space, giving us the time we need to develop the programs and teams needed to sustain the additional cost. The first year of costs is completely covered and each following year the support gradually decreases until we stand on our own in five years’ time. The total contribution a the end of this time will be $381,000. It is an incredible gift and we are humbled, encourage, and overwhelmingly grateful.

The Studio Expansion Project will add another large ballroom for teams and classes, a kitchen, changing rooms, bathrooms, office space, a meeting room, and a very large lobby area. We will be adding programs and teams gradually over the years, starting off with a Dancing Classrooms Academy for 5th and 6th graders and Swing and Salsa nights every week for adults. Our expanded space will allow us to host special events, and potentially competitions.

Beginning on December 1st, we will be gathering volunteers and supplies to paint, decorate, and outfit the space to look like a dance studio. Our grant covers only a small portion of the costs of renovations, but luckily, little is needed besides paint, dance floors, mirrors, and a drinking fountain in the new ballroom. In time, and with more funding, a curtain against the back wall (similar to what we have in our current space) will add insulation and warmth. There is also work to do in the lobby area including creating seating, building a front desk, and installing doors connecting the old and new spaces, among other things. Youth Premier dancer Brandon Maner will be building the front desk and some benches as part of an Eagle Scout project and McKenzie Dickson is rallying a group of parents to create a special homework and study area in the lobby. We are so grateful for them and for all of the volunteers who are ready and willing to help.

Our Grande Opening celebration will be on January 4th from 6 to 10PM. We will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony, min-dance lessons, facility tours, and an epic Battle of the Dad Bands featuring the “Mike and the In-laws” and “Bradley and the Outsiders.” That’s right, these dad bands feature the parents of some of our dancers here at the studio: David Remer, Dave Wilcox, and Scott Nelson. It is going to be a ton of lighthearted fun. We will also have a regular DJ and dancing. The following week, all classes are free to drop in!