Arts and letters society recognizes Jorgeson

MARIETTA – For her passionate work in not only spreading her love of the arts as well as having saved and created what the Smoot Theatre is today, Felice Jorgeson was recognized Saturday by the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters during a luncheon at the Marietta Country Club.

Jorgeson was named a Community Advocate of the Arts for her decades of work in helping to spread the love of all of the arts throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley, said club president Jeanne Tasse.

“Felice has spent her life saving the Smoot Theatre and making it a center for the arts and learning for the entire area through events, programs and classes,” Tasse said.

While he introduced Jorgeson, club member Dr. Charles Pridgeon Jr. said the executive director of the Smoot Theatre saved the historic building and has transformed it into what the community enjoys today – a place to enjoy musical performances, dramatic stage productions and watch children grow as they learn the joys of performance.

“Felice is a person with a strong determination to accomplish what she believes in,” Pridgeon said. “Under her leadership, and with her constant dedication, she revived the old Smoot Theatre, creating a hub for artistic presentations and a location where young people become familiar with all of the arts.”

Children who participate in programs at the theatre, located at 213 Fifth St. in Parkersburg, learn and show off their skills in acting, dancing, singing and playing an instrument through classes and productions.

As she took the podium, Jorgeson pointed out that the rumor regarding her saving the old building from the wrecking ball is slightly exaggerated.

“The Smoot was three weeks from demolition when I took over,” Jorgeson said. “I didn’t stand in front of the wrecking ball, but it was close.”

For the past 25 years, Jorgeson has volunteered a large amount of her time and talents to keeping theater alive in the Mid-Ohio Valley and continues to give between 60-70 hours per week helping students love the arts. Two of her favorite programs to be a part of are Camp Vaudeville and the Smoot Theatre’s Camp Broadway.

“For all of these reasons, the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters recognizes her talents, dedication and accomplishments,” Pridgeon added.

Jorgeson is the third person to have received the Community Advocate of the Arts award from the local organization, Tasse said. The recognition honors those persons who have made an impact on artistic expression and promoting a higher public interest in the arts.

In January 2013, music teacher Pamela McClain, a Parkersburg resident, and symphonic musician Robert Turizziani, who resides in Charleston, were the first to receive the award.

The National Society of Arts and Letters seeks to aid and assist young artists by granting awards after competitions in any of the creative or performing arts. It also promotes higher public interest in the arts.