From PAE's founder...



 I grew up in the rural town of Mount Calvary, Wisconsin.  The year I started working as a registered nurse (2006), my parents, Tom and Lisa Pankratz, had recently purchased the local community hall after it went under, as they did not want to lose a place where they had many fond memories as high school sweethearts; gathering for a friend's wedding, a local band gig, a Friday fish fry, a basketball game. Just prior to purchasing the hall, my parents tossed a few conversations around with us siblings (two sisters and brother) such as 'we could do shows here,' 'people would come back for musical types of shows,' 'you girls could sing and dance,' 'Ben, (brother) you could play in the bands, run the technical stuff.'  Tables started to turn, and wahla, we had a plan for what would become 'Maximillian's,' named after my father's father, an avid arts lover. Walls were knocked out, a bar replaced, and a grand hall renovated with a new sound system, dressing rooms, and a stage.  We only hoped to have the support of the community... By 2006, we had a Christmas show ready to go-a few high-school classmates, myself, and my sisters performed (sang and danced), while my mom played the saxophone and my former high-school choral director accompanied us on the piano- one weekend only, a free-will offering at intermission, and about 200 people from the local area came out to see our first show...That about covers the 'Pankratz' part of PAE.



It was from then on that I knew I had been given a precious opportunity to take the lead and start to plan for our next season-summer 2007. After a 'to whom it may concern email' out to ALL of the local high-school county choral directors declaring I was in desperate need of a music director to work with for the summer for high-energy song and dance revue shows, I received a single response. It was all that I needed-an eager and interested Paul Thompson; a choral director from St. Mary's Springs High of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Paul, the musical arranger and choral and band director, and I, the artistic director and choreographer, worked together for the six years and it was a thrilling joyride to say the least!  I have to brag that Paul is now a Dr. Thompson directing choral activities at the University of Idaho:)...(back up, back up ;)...In 2011, I obtained my BA in dance and officially founded and incorporated PAE, knowing that by creating a non-profit charitable arts entity we would certainly get more support from our community.  We'd be able to branch out, having a board of directors who have helped me create a sound mission, visions, and we have over the years gained more networking and philanthropy. In 2013, as we all said farewell to my partner-in-crime, Paul, we were blessed with the smoothest transition, Ms. Rosemary Walzer.  Rosemary had been the lead alto saxophonist in our Christmas show performances since 2007, and took the reigns as music director. Her and I created Christmas and summer music revue shows from 2013 through summer of 2017. The past shows have consisted of high-energy singing and dancing performers, with original titles, themes, and musical arrangements for band musicians and singers, and most of the music selection is of popular genre.  Check out our photos & testimonials:)  The casts of these shows consist of high-school to college-aged performers, most of whom seek a professional career in the performing arts field.  These performances give the students an opportunity for artistic and individual growth, showcasing their talents on stage for the local community. The casts consist of different members per season due to our audition process, however some have been a part of ALL show productions since Maximillian's started in Christmas of 2006! We call them our 'marathon performers.' In any case, it is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling moments to see the students blossom into mature artists, finding their own voice and identity. The confidence, poise, and artistic abilities of these performers increase substantially by the end of each season, and all who we have worked with become well aware of and share how much they have changed and grown from the experience. We have performers who have ventured off to pursue performing with operas locally and internationally, those who continue to write their own music performing at The House of Blues, those who become higher educated to become a music teacher, or director themselves. It will never cease to amaze me the amount of raw. local, talent that we have seen perform on the stage with us! We have been so blessed...To conclude the 'Arts' in the name of PAE, I envisioned there to be four shows per year, one per weather season. We met this goal as an organization in 2014, by adding a fall season and a spring season to fill the gaps between our Christmas and summer musical revue shows.  Our long term goal for 2019 was met shortly after saying good bye to our home venue, Maximillian's Hall. It has been a great comeback as an organization to be able to reach our goal early-offering other art forms in collaboration and through classes, including visual and theatre arts. I am beyond grateful to have had an eager and talented Hilary Mayer to help PAE branch out in providing arts sessions for the first time at our new venue in Elkhart Lake, WI, in summer of 2018. Be sure to check out what's happenings via our sessions page! Hence, the 'Arts,' pleural for the many art forms I dream about merging...  



After marinating in my thoughts about words like 'organization,' 'program,' 'company,' among others, I started to dig deeper by asking myself what happens when I teach a dance move or direct a performer...I give them something and they receive it.  But, when it is successfully taught or played out, it doesn't necessarily mean that it is exactly how I envisioned it; it is something much more, something maybe different. Something maybe the performer/student has taken and made his/her own.  I, therefore, am now receiving a perspective from the student or from an audience member who is receptive to the art I provide.  So, then, there is an 'exchange'-an artistic exchange between the student/public and director/educator in which we both receive and give.  This is when I feel the arts are a 'success'-when they move and change us from within.  Art is fuel for the soul, indeed. And, I am a firm believer that we all need a dose of it on a regular basis:)   And there you have it= Pankratz Arts Exchange. Let's exchange some creativity to help us really live a little;)Thank you for allowing me to share my passion and journey with PAE thus far...