The primary mission of the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center is to establish and maintain a clear and stable artistic infrastructure to grow a community of confident performers and inspired audiences. The Warren Miller Performing Arts Center (WMPAC) is a collaborative initiative of the Big Sky School District #72, the Friends of Big Sky Education (FOBSE), and the Big Sky community.
The Warren Miller Performing Arts Center (WMPAC), is located in Big Sky’s Gallatin Canyon, at Big Sky’s Ophir School campus. The Center’s namesake, ski movie icon Warren Miller, and his wife Laurie spend half of their time in Big Sky. The Arts Center was named in honor of Miller in part due to his involvement in the community, and also because his legacy demonstrates a bridge between skiing and the arts.
Along with national acts, the WMPAC hosts art events and education within the local community, including The Big Sky Community Theatre program for all area adults with a passion to perform and the Big Sky Community Chorus for those who enjoy singing. Ophir School students also benefit; during the school day, students fill the center with their ideas and talents under the supervision of a faculty of drama, visual arts and music professionals.
The WMPAC presents a 9-Event Winter Season from the last week of December through the last week of March to synchronize with the ski season in Big Sky. Acts vary in disciplines and come from all over the world. Thanks to generous sponsors and heavy underwriting, these performances serve the entire community on a regular basis. The second addition to our main programmatic arm is the Big Sky Conservatory, which takes place in the heart of summer. For more information on the Big Sky Conservatory, click here.
Flexibility is key:
An orchestra pit is created with the removal of selected front seating.
A 1,672 square foot area adjacent to the theater serves as a student cafeteria during the day and a community dining/reception space during events, a warm and welcoming artistic environment.
The front-of-house area is a two-story lobby with galleries for visual arts exhibitions and an elevator that ensures easy access to seats in the upper rows. Wheelchair accessible seating is available in both lower and upper rows. The top floor features a bar for community functions.
The open ceiling permits flexible installation of lighting and sound equipment, while acoustical pillow clouds dampen sound among the black roof girders.
Storage areas dot the performing arts center, enabling the easy storage of instruments and sets in over 1,000 square feet.
Technology-enhanced lighting equipment augment visibility, composition, and mood. Sound components integrate simple and complex sound designs.
A Brief History of the WMPAC
The Big Sky School Board named the center to honor Warren Miller, long-time producer of feature-length snowsports movies. Warren Miller’s stated goal now is to impart a lifetime of wisdom to kids of all ages, and he has done so with students at Ophir and Lone Peak High Schools. In keeping with this desire, he and his wife Laurie started the Warren Miller Freedom Foundation, a non-profit organization which aims to educate aspiring youth and adults in the fundamental principles of entrepreneurship by sharing the skills necessary to become successful, ethical members of the business community. Lone Peak High School students are offered participation in the ten week Young Entrepreneurs Program during which they actually start their own businesses: learning how to plan, mastering basic business vocabulary, and practicing marketing, service, problem-solving, ethics, and networking. An artist, an educator and a legend in the ski industry, Warren lives half the year in Big Sky with his wife Laurie.
In 2009, the opening of the new regulation-size gymnasium, within the Bough-Dolan Athletic Complex on the Big Sky School District campus, freed up the old gymnasium space, allowing it to be repurposed exclusively for a performing arts center. For many years, the old gymnasium had served as the gym, the cafeteria, and the auditorium. During the construction of the secondary schools’ wing, the old stage had to be removed, leaving the schools without a suitable venue for events and performances.
The old gymnasium is now a performance space that combines the best features of several different types of theaters. A proscenium apron projects modestly into seating which embraces the stage and rises for 12 tiered rows in a 2,000 square foot area, thus creating an intimate and comfortable environment for 280 patrons. The theater is comparable in size to Bozeman’s Ellen Theater main floor and is slightly larger than the Reynolds Recital Hall on the MSU campus.