SHELL LAKE, WI -- The Shell Lake Arts Center and Theatre in the Woods are pleased to announce their merger effective October 1st, 2019.  Founded in 1967 and 1990 respectively, Shell Lake Arts Center (SLAC) and Theatre in the Woods (TITW) have over 80 years of providing creative arts education and enrichment experiences to youth and adults.

After 29 years, the TITW Board of Directors found itself in a position where all current members were retiring, and without anyone expressing interest to replace them, the board elected to suspend operations and seek a merger with another organization to help ensure the continuation of its key programs.  The mutual recognition that both organizations share similar values and services provided, makes a solid foundation for the joining of the two well-established arts groups.  Their complementary and overlapping theatre arts programs will generate new capacity to deliver high-quality opportunities and experiences.  There is still much work to be done on deciding what programming will be happening at TITW's current facility in the 2020 season, but the Arts Center will certainly continue to hold plays there and possibly some of their own current events, like "The Art of Film" series as well. 

"Pretty Good Party...The Encore" will be a free event to celebrate the merger held on Saturday, November 2nd, 2019 at the Erika Quam Memorial Theatre from 1:00-4:00 PM.  All supporters of both organizations and the community as a whole are invited.  "Pretty Good Party...The Encore" is a nod to the name used for parties held for TITW cast and crew in the past and there will be memorabilia showcased from the Theatre's 29-year history in Shell Lake for guests to enjoy.  Come and go as you please, and enjoy food, live music provided by Uncommon Denominator, a drawing to win two free tickets to an upcoming show at the theatre, and a special message from the Arts Center's board at 2:00 PM.

Laurie Bakkum, outgoing TITW Board President stated about the merger, "I would like to quote my good friend and fellow board member from the beginning, Carolyn Burnett.  Carolyn said, ' This is an elegant solution.'  I agree - it is a wonderful way for Theatre in the Woods to continue - an elegant solution!"

The Shell Lake Arts Center looks forward to carrying out the amazing legacy that the Theatre in the Woods began in Shell Lake, and is very honored to do so.  The Arts Center's Executive Director, Tara Burns, added," This is a perfect partnership that aligns resources for us to continue the quality programming that has been happening at TITW for so many years.  It is also very important for us to continue the Erika Quam Theatre to honor her memory.  I grew up with Erika so this has very special meaning for me personally."

Laurie Bakkum (left), outgoing TITW Board President, hands over the deed to the Theatre to Bill Taubman (right), current SLAC Board President at the Arts Center. 

About Shell Lake Arts Center and Theatre in the Woods

Shell Lake Arts Center, located in the beautiful Northwoods setting of Shell Lake, WI, is home to the longest-running jazz camp in the nation and has been providing summer camps, workshops, and year-round programming in music, theatre, and visual arts for the last 52 years to youth and adults.  They believe every one of their students deserve the opportunity to work with master teachers and our instructors are nationally known and well-respected in their areas.  Since 1967, they have continued to cultivate artistic genius throughout the years with over 40,000 students from all over the world experiencing classes there.  Alumni include musicians like Byron Stripling, Geoffrey Keezer, Bill Evans, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Lyle Mays, Ethan Iverson, and Pat Mallinger, as well as very successful non-arts related professionals who have gone on to lead Fortune 500 companies and start their own multi-million dollar businesses.

The Center has fulfilled a unique roll in their area, bringing highly skilled music educators and performance artists to the area.  Residents and visitors have opportunities throughout the summer to enjoy several free world-class concerts and performances that are free and open to the public. If you would like to learn more about programs at the Shell Lake Arts Center, or how you can get donate, please call the office at 715-468-2414, or visit their website at

Theatre in the Woods performed their first play in November of 1990 with a cast and crew of passionate local talent, determined to start a community theatre in our area.  Through the years, many more talented people joined that group.  TITW produced many plays, always featuring local directors, casts and crews.  A very generous offer from Pete and Karen Quam gave them the Erika Quam Memorial Theatre which is housed in the historic Methodist Church, dating back to early 1900.  Past performers include Alexander Sandor, Claudia Schmidt, Kevin McMullin, Randy Sabien and Mary Mack to name a few.  They specialized in plays, musicals and dinner theatres, and hosted concerts featuring instrumental and vocal talent.  They offered performing arts that appealed to a diverse, multi-generational audience. The theatre is located at 605 1st Street in Shell Lake.

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