Despite challenges with the Perot Theatre Series, the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council's story amounts to much more than that annual lineup of shows.
In other areas, the Texarkana area's non-profit arts agency is plenty successful by any measure. Its gallery program has grown in relevance and reach with its TRAHC Juried Show welcoming international artists this past year. A permanent collection was added to the Regional Arts Center.
The ArtsSmart program puts working artists in the schools and sees TRAHC partner with the Kennedy Center. Local TRAHC staff travel elsewhere and their work with TRAHC is seen as innovative.
And at the Perot, the Theatre for Young Audiences series is booming. The '18-'19 season brought TRAHC $12,638 in total profits. Shows are routinely sold out.
"We sell more school show tickets than anybody else in Southwest Performing Arts Presenters," said Brian Goesl, TRAHC's executive director. "That's Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and a little bit of New Mexico. We in Texarkana, in little old Texarkana."
Ken Cowling, TRAHC board president, says if you look at all the components TRAHC's having a pretty good year. He points to the Women for the Arts' Party with Picassos having donated $135,000 to TRAHC. Enrollments are up at ArtsSmart and Arts on Main, he said.
Cowling points to the Theatre for Young Audiences success, as well. That series is working at the Perot.
"We don't make a whole lot of money, but over the course of the year we'll make $4,000 or $5,000 on the school shows," Cowling said. It's a captive audience, a good thing, he said. He lauds WFA's success, too.
"Really, TRAHC is in pretty good shape, disregarding the fact that we're having to make up for the moneys that we lost on those series shows," Cowling said.
He said memberships are down but the WFA had a positive response from a membership party held earlier this year. "TRAHC's got a lot of positives going on," Cowling said.
Robin Proctor is most visible at TRAHC as part of the dynamic duo (with Judy Jones) in Women for the Arts who organize Party with Picassos each year. She's also on TRAHC's executive committee.
While membership support has flagged and Perot Theatre series tickets sales have nosedived, Picassos has blossomed as a huge success story for TRAHC support.
Annually in March, Picassos auctions art made by pairs of local celebrities and local artists.
"Our support of Picassos, which has a direct relationship to TRAHC, has just been phenomenal," Proctor said. She wonders if it will drop, but each year they have more involvement than years past.
"Because of that, it has been a financial help to TRAHC," Proctor said. Different things are done with the funds raised, such as kitchen remodeling and funding for art outreach to youngsters.
She admits that she's not sure if funds are used to cover Perot Theatre series costs, saying they leave it to Goesl to use the funds as he sees fit.
"I do know for a fact that TRAHC is a necessity," Proctor said. When prospective businesses come to Texarkana, they ask about what Texarkana has to offer. The arts is what they look for, she said.
"I think it's critical that we support TRAHC," Proctor said, noting that, although it's easy to hop into the car and drive to Shreveport, entertainment at the Perot is something special right here. "We have a phenomenal theater right here in our back door."
Lynn Whitt serves as WFA president and vows that WFA will "continue to be the best organization we can to help promote the arts." She echoes Proctor's comments about supporting TRAHC, specifically pointing to the need for membership.
"I will say it is so important for the community to join TRAHC at any membership level to help the arts in various ways," Whitt said.
Speaking of success, the addition of a movie projector is already making Perot Theatre programming more eclectic.
Look for the Perot Holiday Traditions to come again in December. TRAHC and the city will partner for all-day movies, food trucks and the same celebration as last year.
In October, look for TRAHC to host ghost tours at the Perot. Goesl said they'll change it up from how the tours operated before by recreating instances of what's said to have happened.
"It should be a lot more fun," Goesl said. As part of this, Halloween movies will be shown, too. They're also considering a classical movie series for the Perot.
Back to Arts on Main and educating kids, Goesl talks up art classes for youth. "All the camps that have been going on this summer for kids. Now we have a fall camp, we've got a winter camp, we've got a spring break camp, we've got a summer camp for kids," he said. Then there are Chris Thomas pottery classes and Sheila Keever mosaics classes — all popular.
TRAHC executive board member Travis Ransom also points to the Theatre for Young Audiences as a place to grow. And about the next series of Perot Theatre shows, he remains excited about it even if it's a smaller series, including the price tag at under $15,000 per show.
"We've expanded where we've done well," Ransom said. "We've tried to shrink where we've done poorly."