Conservatory gets front page

Conservatory gets front page
There is music in the air…and much more on the horizon as an ambitious new project finds a foothold in the Texas Panhandle. Canadian has been chosen as the home of the new Conservatory of the Plains which will eventually offer training in music, film, digital media, theater and the performing arts to students here and in surrounding communities and neighboring states.


Music and the arts have already taken on a new life in this community, and a group of professionals from the music, film, television and entertainment industries—
many of them with roots in the Texas Panhandle—hope to nurture their growth throughout the area and to fill the gaping hole that has been left by deep funding
cuts to those programs in this nation’s public schools.

“Canadian has already proven to be an ideal location by virtue of what the visionaries in that community have already accomplished with such venues as The

Citadelle, The Texas Crown Performance Hall, and the Canadian Alliance of the Arts,” said Conservatory Founder and CEO Robert Humphrey. “Half the battle of
finding a location is identifying the proper mindset of the community.”

The planning for this project began when a group of former West Texas State music students, graduates, and professionals from the film, television and

entertainment industries convened for a meeting to discuss an idea presented by Humphrey, a Perryton native. Humphrey has spent a great deal of his career
working closely with educators, musicians, and professionals from stage and screen from the east coast to Hollywood.

Joining Humphrey were his brother, Frank, a retired peace officer and well-known local musician; Robert Frost, a graduate of the WT Music program and successful

businessman; and Alice Flanagan, whose family of educators and musicians played pivotal roles in the establishment of the WT Music Department and other
universities in Texas. Michael and Dianne Killen, television producers and recording artists with Nashville connections, were also in attendance. Not attending the
first meeting but on board in critical advisory capacities are Walter von Huene and Tim Lowry.

Walter von Huene is a noted Hollywood producer/director/actor who has worked with major talent in both television and film productions. He is also one of the founders

of Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida—one of the nation’s most successful film production schools.

Tim Lowry, CEO of Desert Rock Entertainment, has over two decades of experience in television, radio and film production. He is an award winning director, producer

and screenwriter whose various projects include “Three Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain,” “The Gardener” and “Great Sports Vacations.” In addition to producing
and directing several documentaries for the United States Military, he has produced several commercials for KFC, Taco Bell, Raytheon and Nissan, to name just a few.
As an Interactive Multi-Media Producer for Telemedia, Lowry helped invent the technology for “CD-Plus.” He also holds the ownership rights to RollerCross®, the only
extreme sport ever patented in the world. He will be instrumental in the establishment of online education programs and internet broadcasting.

The group met to discuss possible locations for the project and, after getting the “red carpet” treatment from the Canadian Arts Alliance and other community leaders

earlier this year, chose Canadian for its friendly atmosphere, beautiful location and its apparently large appetite for the cultural arts.

According to their plans, the Conservatory of the Plains campus will be built on spacious grounds to allow future expansion. When the first phase is complete, the

complex will accommodate students who wish to further their education in music and the arts and associated mediums.

A Film School, a Digital Media School with a state-of-the-art recording studio, and Theater and Performing Arts will also be offered for those considering a vocation in

other areas of the entertainment industry. All genres of music including classical, jazz, big band, rock, blue grass, gospel and country will be taught and performed with
an emphasis on restoring access to much of the arts curriculum being dropped from public schools.

The Conservatory of the Plains will reach out to surrounding communities and neighboring states in an effort to provide concentrated studies in music, theater, dance,

and other artistic disciplines to all ages. Those studies will begin in the elementary schools and extend through high school and beyond—even to preparing students
of any age for careers in teaching or performance. For younger students, this will be accomplished through after-school, weekend, holiday and summer vacation
periods and by offering instruction as an enhancement to any existing public school programs.

Plans call for teachers in the various instrument groups—including keyboard and voice—to travel around a circuit covering the area’s major communities and to provide

private instruction on location. This will be most beneficial to parents who currently have to drive to Amarillo or another city so their children can take private lessons.


Each quarter, all private students will have the opportunity to gather together for a concert or recital. These events will eventually be rotated among the cities involved
so that each community has the opportunity to host the event and realize benefit from supporting the efforts of the Conservatory.

“We don’t wish to confine our efforts to Canadian alone,” said Humphrey, “but the campus has to be located in a central location to achieve maximum benefit.”

Future plans call for expansion of the film and media arts school to include a movie studio, complete with back lots and changeable sets.


The economies on both coasts have driven major film production across national borders, taking with it jobs, tax revenues and educational opportunities that were once

the prize offerings of the industry in New York and California. Major producers and directors now have an eye toward the central plains. The topography and openness
of the vast prairie lands such as the Texas panhandle region offer them a pioneer spirit, work ethic, and business-friendly atmosphere in great contrast to what the
coasts have become.

It is no secret that many people of great talent and ambition are ready for a change and Humphrey has been quick to lobby them for the Texas Panhandle. The Texas

Film Commission is also working hard to accommodate an industry that generates literally billions of dollars annually and makes them feel welcome.

Such an expansion will necessarily foster new jobs and opportunities in the areas of carpentry, metal work, food services and a host of other crafts needed for support.

In addition, there are plans for an outdoor amphitheater that could be located in one of the canyon breaks outside of Canadian. This venue would be designed to

showcase various types of productions, accommodate large crowds and allow for entertainment spectacles such as fireworks, laser light shows, pageants and
presentations that simply cannot be confined to indoor facilities.

In order to build a college from the ground up, the group has explored a number of avenues for financial support and conferred with investment groups. There will be

several levels of donor participation for anyone in the Panhandle area and beyond who wishes to get involved.

“We want this to be an effort on the part of local communities in the tri-state area and for the greater community of people who appreciate music, live theater, films and

a host of associated artistic expressions in their many forms,” says Humphrey. “With the groundwork already laid by the Canadian Arts Alliance and supportive guidance
from the Amarillo Area Foundations, the way has been paved for one of the most uniquely rewarding projects ever attempted in the area.”

“It’s an aggressive plan,” says Humphrey, “but the support that has already been generated is more than convincing enough for us to take the huge leap from dream to

reality. The main impetus is to educate the next generation and to preserve the critical arts programs that are rapidly disappearing from public education. There are just so
many aspects of it that have the potential to succeed and provide for a lasting legacy for everyone involved.”

To learn more, go online to, call 806.202.8633 or write to Conservatory of the Plains, P.O. Box 1101, Perryton, TX 79070.

the home of the new Conservatory of the Plains which will eventually offer training in music, film, digital media, theater and the performing arts to students here and in surrounding communities and neighboring states.