Michael Crews Education Wing
The community response to the Art Center’s quality programs in just ten years overwhelmed the capacity of the historic structure built for the needs of a 1927 church congregation..
A Capital Campaign called You Gotta Have Art, chaired by Robin Gibson, was formed in 1999 to raise funds for repairs and restoration to the existing structure and to add additional classroom and gallery space needed to allow the Arts Center to expand its programs of art and music to the community and surrounding area.
Lake Waleans who had known Mike Crews and his love for arts, suggested that the new building be named in his honor and memory. The Lake Wales Arts Council unanimously agreed. Michael Crews, Mary Combs, Marilyn Newell, Marie Kirch, and Milford Myhre were the signers of the original Lake Wales Arts Council Charter.
Michael Crews was President of the Community Concert Association and was instrumental in merging that organization and the Lake Wales Arts Council. In the past, Mrs. Mary G. Combs, president of the AAUW, and other interested citizens, tried to purchase a closed movie theater for a performance and arts venue. When this effort failed, these same people formed the Lake Wales Arts Council to promote the arts in Lake Wales. Mrs. Combs became the first President of the Arts Council and planned community concerts for many years.
When the property of the Holy Spirit Catholic Church became available in 1988, Frances D. Updike, a parishioner, and Ann W. Norton, artist and educator, co-chaired a movement to purchase the building as an arts center. Mrs. Updike prevailed upon D. Patrick Cain to serve as campaign chairman. Mr. Lawrence Beery, Jr. was president of the Arts Council at this time. In the fundraising effort, Michael Crews proved invaluable in helping raise the needed funds. For years prior to this, he also served as the pro bono attorney for the Arts Council Board.
Crews also was the founder of the Lake Wales Chorale and spent much of his short life involved in the arts in Lake Wales. His dedication to and love of the arts helped the art scene in Lake Wales to change and continue to grow and flourish. It was only fitting to honor his memory by naming the new addition the Michael Crews Education Wing.