Our Story

Mission Statement

The Chippewa Valley Cultural Association, Inc. (CVCA) is a catalyst for artistic expression and education to enrich the Chippewa Valley and beyond.

Diversity and Inclusion Policy

Adopted by the Board of Directors on 07.13.2021

The Mission Statement of the Chippewa Valley Cultural Association, Inc. (CVCA), dba Heyde Center for the Arts, is to be a catalyst for artistic expression and education to enrich the Chippewa Valley and beyond. In pursuit of our mission, we acknowledge, honor and value the dignity and contributions of all.

CVCA pledges to create and actively support an environment that respects and celebrates the diverse traditions, heritages, and experiences of everyone. In addition, we strive to provide all community members with an artistic space to discuss, understand, and address divergent opinions and ideas.

We define "diversity" to mean embracing differences in age, culture, ethnicity, immigration status, learning style, nationality, occupation, physical ability, race, religion, sex (including gender identity, pregnancy, and sexual orientation) and socio-economic status.


The Association was formed in 1976 to accomplish two main goals:

  1. Save the old McDonell Memorial High School building from destruction, and
  2. Restore it as venue for local artists, performers, writers and creative producers to explore, grow and share their talents with others in the region and beyond.

Additionally, the CVCA brings in gifted individuals and groups from outside the region with the vision of exposing Chippewa Valley residents to the talents of people from all over the world.

The Heyde Center for the Arts is the name of the historic building that was saved and restored to its present glory. The McDonell Memorial High School building was constructed in 1907 by a benevolent lumberman named Alexander McDonell in memory of his wife and children.

The building was closed in 1964 when a new Catholic high school was built on the other side of town. For years after it was closed, the building was vandalized and allowed to deteriorate. Most of the windows were broken. Rain and snow caused the wood floors to buckle. The plaster on the walls peeled. Flocks of pigeons took up residence.

The dream languished for two decades, but a group of committed citizens refused to give up. The CVCA issued a call to area residents, inviting them to reclaim the building.

Building Hours: Mon – Thur 10 am to 5 pm and Fri 10 am to 4 pm

The Heyde Center Today

Floors were swept, pigeons sent flying, and temporary electrical service established. Excitement for the project grew and eventually more than $2 million was gathered and skilled and unskilled laborers provided hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer labor.

Repairing Windows Warped Floor Boards Restoring the Balcony Repairing the Pipes Concrete Work Installing Electrical System

The CVCA largely accomplished its first main goal when it opened the doors of the Heyde Center for the Arts to the public in 2000.

Since then, the CVCA has made significant progress in achieving its second goal. In 2006, the CVCA/Heyde Center received the Governor’s Award for Supporting the Arts in the “community organization” category.

Each year approximately 18,000 people visit the Center’s performances, exhibits, and special events.

A volunteer board manages the facility and the Association has more than 200 members.


Debra A. Johnson

Executive Director

Patricia Larson

Office Manager

Kennedy Eslinger

Performance Services Associate

Board of Directors

Connie Freagon, Treasurer

Jennifer Heinz, Vice President

Peter Holm, Past President

Steve Herriges

Terri Hutson

Mike Martell

Sandi McCausland

Jean McIquham, Secretary

Mary Rose Willi

Ross Wilson, President