WILKES-BARRE — The marquee at the FM Kirby Center for the Performing Arts scrolled a message Thursday: “Welcome Luzerne County Arts & Entertainment Hall of Fame.”
And what a greeting. The announcement was welcomed by all parts of the community and everyone present had the same feeling – it was a really good feeling.
As my dear friend and Committee colleague Connie Wynn said, “We truly believe this is going to blow people’s socks off.”
Connie represents the RACE (Rediscovering Ancestry Through Culture and Education) team on the committee and brings great knowledge and expertise to the committee.
As have all of our members who have been meeting for months to get to this point – Joe Nardone Sr., Gallery of Sound, who has had this dream for many years; Lindsay Griffin-Boylan, President/CEO Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber’; Tony Brooks, Alderman Wilkes-Barre/Wilkes-Barre Preservation Society; Mayor George Brown, Wilkes-Barre City; Alan K. Stout, Visit Luzerne County; Jody Busch, musician/engineer; and my friend Constance Wynn; and this author.
The eight of us are committed to our mission to honor and commemorate all those who have made their mark in the world of arts and entertainment by enshrining them in this prestigious hall.
We have six committees beginning to meet to decide who will be in our first class to be announced in Spring 2023 – Music, Film, Television, Stage, Media, Art (Painting, Sculpture).
These are all inclusive categories and we can assure everyone that all aspects of each category will be considered and appreciated.
Unfortunately, we’ve already heard from a few naysayers who, for reasons unknown, think we’re leaving out deserving candidates like writers and dancers. That’s just not true. Our committees will consider all areas of arts and entertainment. And we will be fair to everyone.
Our goal is to announce the first class of initiates in the spring of 2023 and have a dinner in the fall, about a year from now, to honor these initiates and their families.
Brooks puts our mission, purpose and sanity in perfect perspective.
“We’ve all experienced that severe swelling in your chest,” Brooks said at the news conference. “We often can’t describe the feeling, but we know it when it fills our hearts.
“It’s the feeling you get when you’re moved by powerful art—perhaps an exquisite painting, a sweeping song, or an actor’s dramatic performance.
“Lucerne County now has a way to especially honor artists and entertainers who make us better people by sharing their talents.”
I can tell you that after years of debate and wishful thinking, Nardone and I decided to form a committee to discuss the establishment of a Hall of Fame, and that day finally arrived last Thursday.
Luzerne County Natives are eligible, as are all those who have lived in Luzerne County at one time or made a name for themselves in Luzerne County.
The criteria are simple – our committees review all whose names are put forward and decide who is honored. We anticipate that our first class will probably be our largest.
But the real work begins now, as our committee begins to meet to go through all the nominees that are brought in for consideration. It’s exciting and it’s going to be fair. Although our first class will be large we cannot accommodate all, but as we progress all will be honored and accommodated.
We want to be sure that our first class includes the most deserving in all categories.
“The talent that we have today and the talent that we have had in the past will be part of this wonderful Hall of Fame,” said board member Stout, who has interviewed hundreds of musicians for newspaper articles and radio shows.
Mayor Brown said, “There are many famous people from Luzerne County. You can be proud of that.”
Brown said he expects the Hall of Fame to “start small” but “put us back on the map.”
Anyone may submit to the committee names of artists whose work they believe deserves recognition in the Hall of Fame. Potential recruits could be people who were born in Luzerne County, lived here “or made a name for themselves in Luzerne County.”
The public is also welcome to submit designs for an official logo for the new entity; Visit the Hall of Fame Facebook page for details.
“Arts and entertainment are a huge part of our culture,” said Griffin-Boylan, president and CEO of the Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce.
And now our fellowship will see all honored and their accomplishments forever immortalized.
You can reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle or email [email protected]