The idea of this concert was formulated 3 years ago by local entrepreneur and music producer Art Lieberman. Lieberman was the producer for the Courtyard Theater in the Susquehanna Valley Mall. As a former resident of New York City, Lieberman watched funding for drama and music deteriorate in the city high schools in the early 1980s. His career as an entertainer for nearly 50 years, resulted from an appreciation of courses in drama and music in the high school he attended.
After moving to New Berlin in 2000, Lieberman became a regular attendee at the concerts and drama programs at the high schools in Snyder, Union and Northumberland Counties and fell in love with the quality of the presentations of students and the instruction of the teachers of those programs. But Lieberman noticed that all the programs weren’t equally funded. Some of the school’s budgets for drama and music were severely limited. Still, the efforts of the schools to maintain these programs were consistently good.
When Lieberman’s business started to thrive, he decided to try to assist the schools in generating additional funds to assist these programs. In 2001, he created SUN High School Musical Awards, Inc, a not for profit corporation, to create a program to generate capital. But his timing for the project was wrong, although his idea did receive some major publicity. But, during his early attempt, Lieberman did, however, meet Bob Taylor, who was the dramatic instructor at Muncy High School and, together, they created the Courtyard Theater.
Then in April of 2014, Lieberman heard of a tribute band for the famous Brothers Gibb called The Bee GeeZ USA, and booked them into the theater for a concert in July of last year.
The group caused a sensation, selling out the venue to cheering crowds and the idea of utilizing the group to reactivate the fundraising activity for the high schools was reborn.
In early fall, Lieberman contacted Susquehanna University and began negotiations to use the beautiful Weber Chapel auditorium, securing the date of Saturday, March 7th at 7:00 PM as the targeted date and time for the concert. Lieberman had to make sure that the date did not conflict with events the ten local high schools were conducting. The high schools from Milton, Shikellamy, Lewisburg, Mifflinburg, Selinsgrove, Midd West, Line Mountain, Shamokin, Mount Carmel and Warrior Run were the schools he invited to participate.
According to the plans, schools would be sent 100 tickets each to sell and they would keep 50% of all the monies they collected. Participating schools will also receive half of all net funds received from tickets sold over the internet, by the Bee GeeZ, or at the door and also from sponsors. The schools would also each select several students to coordinate sales of tickets and to act as ushers at the concert. At this writing, four of the ten high schools have “opted-in” to the event.
“Why not?”, asks Lieberman. “They have nothing to lose and some extra funds to gain”.
The company has begun to try to elicit sponsors for the event and are already in discussion with several banks and larger businesses who have a major presence in the tri-county area.
All seats will be reserved and tickets for the concert will be $25 in advance and $30 at the door the day of the concert. Tickets will soon be available on the website for the concert, www.sunhsawards.com. The production office can be contacted at 570-966-0080 for questions about the concert or for those interested in sponsorship possibilities. All contributions, along with tickets themselves, are tax deductible. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. All tickets will be “will call” and can be picked up at the door the day of the concert or purchased in the lobby.
Lieberman is extremely excited about the concert. “At last my vision of trying to raise some additional funding for these valuable programs is about to happen. I have seen reports of what occurs when these programs disappear. The drop-out rates for kids increase dramatically and the benefits of social contacts with other children disappear. It happened in my home town nearly 30 years ago”.
Also excited about the event are members of the singing group. They look forward to bringing a professional quality show to this wonderful venue. They also can’t wait until the final song of the show when kids from the participating schools will be invited to the stage to accept the kudos for helping make the concert possible and to dance to the disco sounds of this tribute group.