If not for the Christensen Academy of Music and Dance, 14-year-old pianist Maggie Nawyn wouldn't be here.
The historic Brigham City building, dating to 1903, has had several names and functions over the years. It was called the Silver Slipper Ballroom when Nawyn's great grandparents met there.
Nawyn, who is starting her own youth symphony, is naming her orchestra Silver Slipper, to honor both her kin and the place where they met.
Now she needs a symphony-sized performance space, and is hoping that she can help the city raise funds to complete the restoration of the academy. She has already raised $3,000 toward the project and now has arranged a fundraising open house, silent auction and concert in the academy's courtyard on Saturday, Aug. 18.
Entertainer/Mormon Tabernacle Choir singer Alex Boyé will emcee and perform at "Dreams: Remembrance & Hope," the title Nawyn has given the event. Other headliners include Alpine actor and musician Marvin Payne and Nawyn's piano teacher from Utah State University, Luke Hancock.
Inside needs TLC
The outside of the academy has already been restored by the city, but the inside still needs a massive face-lift. The city's plan is to eventually open the academy as exactly the type of performance art center that Nawyn has in mind for her symphony.
"The project has been dead in the water for several years," Nawyn said. "But if I can raise $500,000, the city said it and private arts centers will match that."
According to Paul Larsen, the community and economic development director for Brigham City, the architect firm the city consulted estimated costs to finish the academy restoration at roughly $2 million. That includes refurbishing the ballroom and other portions of the interior.
Also included in that price is an addition to the north side of the building for breakrooms and up-to-date restrooms and modern heating and air conditioning units.
Larsen said that about $1 million has already been spent to refurbish the exterior.
"That pretty much took care of the restoration of the windows and the exterior of the building," Larsen said. "We also discovered then that the building did not have a real foundation. They had just put it on piles of rocks originally. So we retrofitted it with a foundation and did the seismic work needed to make it secure."
Nawyn is hoping that this concert will not only lure donors, but also get other community members involved in the project.
"Foundations, and other people, have told me, 'We will put our money into this if we can see the community is interested.' So the basic idea of the concert is to spark that community interest and let people know this project is moving forward -- but only with their help."
Lots of talent
Nawyn, who is home-schooled, and who has studied piano for three years, has put together this event in all of two weeks.
Of course, she's had a little help from her friends, including the teachers she studies piano with at USU and the staff at the Brigham City Chamber of Commerce. And she has called on talent throughout the area.
She will be among the performers, as will violinists and friends Mitchell Andersen, 15, and McCall Anderson, 11. Some of the other acts on the bill include singer Kramer Morton, who is in his senior year at Alta High School, and, from the family who originally built the academy, dancers Sandy and Annabelle Christensen.
As for Boyé, Nawyn said that he volunteered to come onboard in just the last few days.
"My mom is an author, and she met Alex when she went to Channel 2 to promote her book," Nawyn said. "He was really nice and he told her, 'If there is ever anything I can do to help you, let me know.' Well, here it is -- we need his help, and here he is. I just hope I don't faint when I meet him."