Care going into Pablo Center's inaugural season lineup

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- It's a sight Brenna St. George Jones holds with reverence.

"On those days where it seems like everything is planning and meetings and paperwork ... and then, you come in here and it's like going to church," the Director of Artistic Programming for the Pablo Arts Center at the Confluence said to WEAU 13 News on Thursday. "It's a cathedral – little ‘c’. It's welcoming, I think. You want to be happy when you're here."

When she looks around the Pablo Center, she is excited for the shows which will take to its stages starting next month – including Phil Cook, Phantom Tollbooth and the Oak Ridge Boys. Jones said the table will be set for a full buffet of talent in this new $59 million showcase.

"I've been describing it as I want to invite you over for dinner. I'm going to serve you something that you really love for the first course ... and then for the second course, I'm going to push it a little bit. I'm going to give you something that you haven't tried before,” she said. "I think it's entirely possible for tradition and innovation to exist side by side – and that was a focus of what I've tried to put into the season."

When those shows begin in the RCU Theater in the Pablo Center, more than 1,200 people will be packed in to see all the excitement – with the farthest away is only about 80 feet from the stage.

"It's this grand, but it feels this intimate and I think you walk into it you kind of go ... but it's built to feel an unquantifiable way like you're close to what's happening."

Recent days have seen crews setting up lighting and sound systems, but Jones said even from the rivets on the walls and the cup holders in the seats, the Pablo Center will be set for Eau Claire’s present and future.

"It's capable of handling innovation. As the world changes, as technology changes, this building was designed to roll with that and then be able to get better," she said. “It's incredibly rare to take something as personal as making a season, but have complete faith in the team that you're doing it with.

“From the director of production operations, to sales and booking, to our marketing , to patron services to our visual and literary arts to workforce development and community outreach, we’ve hired people who aren’t just the best at what they do but who really do believe in the project. It’s terrifying in a ski-jump kind of way, but I don't have any doubt that we’re going to land with our feet under us.”

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