POST FALLS - The Jacklin Arts and Cultural Center is growing up.
After years of fundraising and being restored, then leadership changes as an infant center, the JACC appears to have rounded another corner and found a more permanent identity.
An ambitious board and executive director Liisa Spink are pursuing a wider variety of programs for the historic gem in the heart of the city.
The JACC has offered art shows, concerts and cooking classes and has hosted community events and weddings, but is expanding into theater to tap into the facility's rich history and intimate setting and offer a venue to draw attendees from both Spokane and Coeur d'Alene.
The JACC will host its first play - "The Importance of Being Earnest" - starting Thursday.
In the works for December is the "Post Follies," a musical with local political satire written by Dan Gookin, a Coeur d'Alene City Council member, and Ron Lahr, a JACC board member.
"We want to offer four performances a year to start - one each season," Lahr said. "We have wonderful stages in the area, but nothing that's small and intimate. We believe the JACC can fill that niche that isn't being served with the theater community and feature the setting."
Spink said the 1890s building will allow for more site-specific work.
"We have unusual space, so I want to exploit that and bust out of the more stereotypical theatrical black box," she said.
"We exist because the building is here, so it only makes sense to celebrate it."
Also coming is the Rising Stars program in which young local talent will perform music in smaller rooms of the JACC.
Lahr said Susan Jacklin's "tireless efforts" as acting director before Spink's arrival, Spink's theater background having worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and an active board and volunteers all led to the revival.
"It's a very impressive group of people and there's so much energy that feeds on itself and that creates more energy," Lahr said. "There was a nice foundation that's being taken to the next level. Being on the board of the JACC is a relief. It lifts my spirits and is such a joy."
Lahr said the theater world in the region is tight-knit, so there isn't a sense of competitiveness and stepping on other theater's toes.
"Theaters are supportive of one another and they want each other to do well," Lahr said. "There's lots of different venues to do different things at different times."
And the communities seem be embracing the theatrical experience.
"In tough times, people look for an escape," Lahr said. "We're seeing our attendance rise and at the same time we're adding more events. That says to me people are hungry for quality entertainment and that will allow us to fulfill our mission."
• "The Importance of Being Earnest" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 9, 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 13 and Sept. 15 and 2 p.m. on Sept. 16.