SHERIDAN — As Sheridan College staff prepares for the first big show in the Whitney Center for the Arts, The Sheridan Press asked the center’s executive director to talk about herself and the new facility that will host the Colorado Symphony in early October.

Here’s what she had to say:

Question: You started out as a math teacher at SC. How did you go from math to theater? Those two subjects aren’t typically intertwined.

Hanke: I have degrees in math and art history so math and the arts have always been intertwined for me! Math is really a language more than anything else and really just teaches you how to think. In my mind it’s the most practical degree you can get.

I’ve always loved music but didn’t really start studying it seriously until I was in my early twenties when I moved to New York City for graduate school. I went on to get my doctorate in historical music performance.

Question: What is the coolest thing or something unique about the new space at the arts center?

Hanke: It’s hard to pick just one but the space certainly stands out in its versatility. For example, the concert hall can be tuned (acoustical banners can be lowered and raised to effect the requirements of the performer). Also, we have many open spaces in addition to our secure gallery so that we have the capability to show larger pieces of artwork that might not fit in the gallery. The entire facility is a canvas.

Question: A couple of shows have been announced for the space — Brubeck Brothers, Colorado Symphony, “Swan Lake” — what will the space be used for between those shows?

Hanke: We actually have a full season of performances and gallery exhibitions scheduled for 2016-17. You can find out about our monthly exhibitions and performances at our website,, but buy tickets through the WYO Theater box office. Even between these performances, though, our students will be utilizing the space. We think of the WCA as another classroom.

Question: Do you have a vision for what the art center will be?

Hanke: The center will first and foremost serve the students of Sheridan College and so the needs and interests of the students will guide the programming at the WCA. That said, we want the community to feel welcome at all of our events. We have the opportunity to bring in art and performances that one wouldn’t see at the other venues around Sheridan.

Question: How do you see the center fitting into the community as a whole?

Sheridan is incredibly fortunate to have such a high number of arts venues. Fortunately, there is no risk of competition as there are few subjects as widely diverse as the arts! The type of programming that you will see at the WCA will be quite different from the arts already available at the other fine venues in the area.

Question: What kinds of shows or performances do you want to see in the space?

Hanke: Diversity, diversity, diversity. We really want to bring a wide range of artists to the college to supplement the education that the students are already receiving from our faculty. Most of the exhibitions will feature contemporary artists, many of whom teach at other colleges and universities around the nation. The concerts will feature performers that will also be able to work with our students in masterclasses and workshops.

Question: Which is the best seat in the house?

That really depends on individual preference. I myself prefer the center balcony.