The Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio (NPAC) opened its doors March 15 of 2007. Since then, the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation and Van Wert City Schools have combined to produce annual full seasons of professional performances, school performances, high school musicals, rentals, dance competitions and more.
The NPAC hosts over 35,000 people each year from as many as 25 states and Canada in its facility. Artists ranging from Trace Adkins, to Kellie Pickler, Amy Grant, Sandy Patti, Kenny G, Tony Orlando, Dave Koz, Michael W. Smith, and Boney James to Marie Osmond as well as bands like the Charlie Daniels Band, The Ohio State Marching Band, The Spinners, Vienna Boys Choir, America and the United States Army Field Band and Soldiers Chorus, and Broadway shows such as West Side Story, The Addams Family Musical, Annie, the National Tour of Porgy & Bess and Fiddler on the Roof have entertained audiences from the Central Insurance Company Stage. Youth of all ages have performed on the stage and organizations and businesses throughout the region have utilized the First Federal Lecture Hall, Van Wert Federal Savings Bank Grand Lobby, Tom & Nancy Keltner Upper Lobby and Van Wert County Foundation/Saltzgaber Music Hall.
The dream was started in 2001 when the Van Wert City School District was awarded matching funds from the Ohio Schools Facility Commission to build a new educational facility after taxpayers passed a levy to support the new building. The idea of providing an enhanced auditorium for the school and community grew to reality as individuals and businesses stepped up to the plate after Van Wert alumnus Scott Niswonger committed an initial $2 million to the project. Six years and 9.8 million dollars later the building was completed and paid for entirely with private donations. Gifted back to the school, both the Van Wert City Schools and Van Wert County Foundation formed a separate foundation called the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation (VWAPAF). This foundation leases and helps pay for the operation of the NPAC as well as coordinates the scheduling and day to day operation of the facility.
The Niswonger Performing Arts Center is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically.
VWAPAF MISSION STATEMENT
To provide a premier venue for a wide variety of performing arts, concerts, lectures, meetings, and special events which will inspire, educate, and entertain residents of and visitors to Van Wert County, and to provide an economic catalyst by increasing cultural tourism, creating new jobs, and generating business for the region.
The Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It is a supporting organization of The Van Wert County Foundation. It has its own board of directors and Executive Director.