Have a passion for the arts?

If so, then The State Theatre Center for the Arts in Easton is certain to evoke those intense emotions.

Denise Smith, vice president of development, explained the venue's program for the 2013-14 season recently to members of the Palmerton Area Chamber of Commerce.

"It's an absolute wonderful gem in the Lehigh Valley," Smith said. "It's amazing the power of what the arts do in terms of economic development."

Smith said the Theatre was built in 1910. It became "The State Theatre for the Arts in 1926.

A 1,549-seat facility, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Smith lauded Shelley Brown, the company's current president and CEO, whom she said has been with the organization for the past 21 years.

The staff is comprised of 13 full-timers, many part-timers, and 250 active volunteers, Smith said.

In 2002, the State Theatre announced the 2003 Freddy Awards, which recognizes significant accomplishments in high school musical theatre.

Since then, Smith said the State Theatre has partnered with WFMZ Channel 69 to televise the three-hour television program live.

She said 30 high schools from Lehigh and Northampton counties, as well as Warren County, NJ, compete for outstanding achievement awards in 21 categories, including student scholarships from various area colleges.

Since the program's inception, she said $357,000 has been given away in college scholarships and paid internships.

"I do believe that the Freddy's will be part of the legacy of the Theatre," she said. "It has grown beyond what we could ever have expected."

Despite competition from other venues, Smith said the Theatre remains the cream of the crop.

"I've had people say The State Theatre is the most beautiful place in the Lehigh Valley to see a show," she said. "We hope there will always be folks who feel like that."

Above all else, Smith said the Theatre attempts to be "good stewards."

"We appreciate our patrons, we appreciate our members," she said. "It's important that the community sees value in the Theatre and wants us to be a part of the community."

Chamber President Peter Kern said it was up to the community to take advantage of all the Theatre has to offer.

"We are part of the Greater Lehigh Valley," Kern said. "There are a tremendous number of organizations we should take part in."

For more information on The State Theatre Center for the Arts, visit www.statetheatre.org [1].