What’s The Deal On The Port Polson Players and Mission Valley Friends of the Arts?

Built in 1938, the city-owned log building has been renovated and is maintained by the non-profit Mission Valley Friends of the Arts (MVFA). Under a twenty-year lease with the city of Polson, the MVFA has an agreement with the Port Polson Players to serve as caretakers for the facility. Neal and Karen Lewing, Managing and Artistic Directors for the Players, also serve as secretarial and administrative directors for the MVFA. All fundraising drives for MVFA, follow up, publicity, building maintenance, contracted renovation, grant assistance, accountability and facilitation are conducted by the Lewings, on behalf of “The Friends.” MVFA doesn’t pay them for these services; they trade use of the facility to produce theatre.

The Players three-part program provides Students (K- 12) with theatre opportunity through Polson School District #23, and an annual Kids Performance Camp. A Community Theatre program brings valley-wide performers of all ages together in three to four productions a year. Lastly, the Summer Theatre pairs the best Mission Valley talent with Montana theatre professionals, which the Lewings hire for the local tourist season. All of this happens at The Beautiful Log Theatre On The Lake.

MVFA money goes into the building. Box Office receipts go toward producing the actual shows.

Why give to MVFA? Your tax- deducible contributions provides a space so the Port Polson Players can provide the Plays. This synergetic system has been effective in providing an ANNUAL performing arts program that pinpoints the Players as the fifth oldest, year ’round, theatre company in the state.
New Roof for the John Dowdall Theatre
It was a long time in the planning, but thanks to a Montana TIIP (Tourism Infrastructure Investment Program) grant through Travel Montana, a grant from First Interstate Bank, and materials donated by Western Building Center, MVFA finally accomplished the new roof project at the John Dowdall Theatre. The 40-year old shake roof was an inefficient, unsightly, leaking safety hazard. During December of ’07, local roofing contractor Leonard Piedalue and crew worked tirelessly in sub-zero temperatures to complete the project by year’s end.

A new substructure was laid down and double-papered, with four inches of foam insulation covered by 40-year composition shingles.

“We noticed a dramatic (pardon the pun) difference in our air conditioning costs this summer,” remarked MVFA Board member Carmine Mowbray. “It’s roughly a 50% savings. Plus, the actors don’t get wet when it rains.”

Meanwhile, Chuck Jarecki oversaw a sweeping landscape project, trimming overgrown shrubbery and removing brush. The new look has elicited numerous compliments.

Next up major improvements, on the MVFA wish list, include the men’s restroom downstairs, new flooring downstairs and, as the City Council approved relinquishing the ‘seed shed’ to MVFA, that structure is slated to become a scene shop and storage area i, once the golf course has completed plans for a new facility to house its seed and fertilizer.

MVFA President Dennis Anderson, Roof Contractor Leonard Piedalue, and MVFA Managing and Administrative Directors Neal and Karen Lewing pose in front of the finished project