EMFA Mission Statement

The Eagles Mere Friends of the Arts is an organization dedicated to presenting professional musical programs and other cultural events of high quality for the community of Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding area.


What We Do

Eagles Mere Friends of the Arts is a seasonal community arts center serving Eagles Mere and Sullivan County in the bucolic Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania.

For 10 weeks each summer the lights go on in our home, the David A. DeWire Center, and we bring the community together to enjoy concerts and performances, create art at our Endless Arts classes, and share food and ideas at Brain/Food, our weekly lecture, movie, book discussion series.

More than 2,500 people from our community and beyond attended our programs in 2023.

We were founded in 1975 by visionary community members to bring music to Eagles Mere and Sullivan County. Over the years we have expanded this vision to make The Friends of the Arts the comprehensive arts center it is today.

EMFA is a Pennsylvania non-profit membership organization. Our programs are supported by memberships, sponsorships, donations, and grants. All donations are tax-deductible under IRS Section 501(c)(3).


Adelaide Ferguson, Co-Chair
Jeanne Sullivan, Co-Chair
Betsy Beaugard, Secretary/Treasurer

Linda Berry Gould
Jason Blake
Mary Blondy
Lori Carpenter
Frank Comfort
Suzanne Ganse
Casey Goodall
Christian Hall
Katie Law
Harriet Power
Margaret Polaneczky
Henry Ryder
Bryn Smythe

Nancy Liebert, Program Manager

who we are 2

A Brief History of Eagles Mere Friends of the Arts


"Art pulls a community together." Lester Sinclair


Quick Facts:

  • Eagles Mere Friends of the Arts was founded in 1975
  • Mission: Presenting professional music programs and other cultural events of high quality to the community of Eagles Mere and the surrounding area
  • 1982 David A. DeWire Center was built, providing a permanent home
  • First Season: two Concerts by The Philadelphia Trio and The Philadelphia Chamber Singers
  • 2023 Season: 14 Concerts, including 9 on Village Green, the East Coast Premiere of a play, 3-Day Dance Program, 13 Art, Music and Drama Classes, and 9 Weekly Brain/Food Potluck Dinners with Lectures and Film/Book Discussions

The arts have long been part of an Eagles Mere summer. During Eagles Mere's Chautauqua era, which started in 1896 and lasted less than a decade, lectures and fine arts activities were held in the Park. In later years chamber music and films were a staple at many of Eagles Mere's resort hotels. From 1945-69 Eagles Mere was home to a small summer stock theater founded by Northwestern University theatre professor Alvina Krause, who brought performers such as Joanne Woodward, to Eagles Mere. But after World War II, one by one the hotels began to close, as did the theater, ending an era of regular entertainment in Eagles Mere.

In 1974 two enterprising community members, Priscilla Ryan and Debby Reeder, stepped in to fill the void by organizing a concert of The Philadelphia Trio at the Presbyterian Church. The concert was well received and prompted a group of volunteers to establish Eagles Mere Friends of the Arts in 1975.

Since its founding almost 50 years ago, the Friends of the Arts has been bringing the community together to enjoy music and cultural events. It is truly remarkable that a community of our size has a facility with the physical, technical and human resources to mount professional music, art and theatre programs. The Friends of the Arts punches above our weight and we couldn't do it without the support of the community.

In 2025, when we will celebrate our 50th anniversary, we hope to do a comprehensive history of the Friends of the Arts. Until then this brief summary will give you an overview. We apologize in advance for any inaccuracies or unintended omissions. Too many people have played important roles to name everyone who made a valuable contribution in this short piece. We invite you to send comments and corrections to us on our website.

Finding a Permanent Home at the David A. DeWire Center

In the early years most events were held in the Federated Church, but many others were held where ever there was space, including lawns of private cottages, the Village Green and the Community Hall. Rain was a constant threat. When it became clear that a permanent home was needed, Friends of the Arts joined forces with the Fire Company and the Eagles Mere Athletic Association to raise over $300,000 to construct a building on the site of the old Allegheny Hotel at 891 Laporte Avenue. The building was completed in 1982 and two years later it was named in honor of David A. DeWire, an admired community leader whose efforts were critical in making the project possible.

Eagles Mere's Arts Programming Has Waxed and Waned Over the Years

Our first season featured just two groups - The Philadelphia Trio and The Philadelphia Chamber Singers. Revenue from memberships, gifts, and admissions was encouraging and an expanded schedule was planned for the 1976 season. The classical music program was expanded to include songs of the Orpheus Club of Philadelphia and a Neil Simon play, The Star Spangled Girl, the first play seen in Eagles Mere in 10 years. Over the years EMFA's program has evolved in response to community interests to become the robust summer community arts center it is today.

The 70's and 80's were busy times for the arts in Eagles Mere. From 1976-2010, Music in the Mountains offered two weeks of intensive study for gifted chamber music students under the direction of Debby Reeder and Barbara Sonies. As they do every year, five graduates of Music in the Mountains, now known as The Eagles Mere Chamber Players, return for a reunion concert at the DeWire Center. The Ensemble Theater Community School, a children's theater workshop founded and directed by Ann Klotz and Seth Orbach from 1984-2011, was an important part of so many Eagles Mere summers.

Summer Concert Series on the Village Green & the DeWire Center

It is probably fair to say that Friends of the Arts is best known for its concerts, which have expanded in number and musical styles in recent years. Our 10-week season typically starts July 4th with an Eagles Mere tradition ...a performance by The Repasz Band from Williamsport. This year we have a full schedule of concerts on the Village Green and our Main Stage in a variety of musical styles including: classic and indie rock, folk, classical, a bit of the blues, big band, and jazz. In the last few years the community, especially families, have enjoyed our free family-friendly concerts on Eagles Mere's Village Green.

Main Stage performances are at the David A. DeWire Center. In 2013 EMFA started hosting members-only concerts in private homes in Eagles Mere that became an ever-popular event.

Brain/Food: A Weekly Community Gathering to Share Food and Ideas

Sometime around 2001 a group of volunteers created Brain/Food to bring together like-minded community members for a potluck dinner and intellectual stimulation in the form of lectures, film and book discussions. Over 20 years later Brain/Food continues to thrive. Every Thursday night in July and August you will see community members carrying their covered dishes into the DeWire Center to spend an evening sharing dinner and ideas with their neighbors at Brain/Food.

Endless Arts in Eagles Mere: A Contemporary Chautauqua Experience

A relative newcomer, Endless Arts, was founded in 2017 by a group of five summer residents who wanted more hands-on art creation in Eagles Mere. In 2017-19, successful Endless Arts Weekends attracted 83 attendees in its final season. Endless Arts emerged from the pandemic with a new focus on providing summer art programs at the DeWire Center. In 2021 Endless Arts sponsored Mosaic in the Mountains, a summer community-wide project on the art of mosaics. Community members of all ages made and installed the clay mosaics that decorate the columns of the DeWire Center. In 2021 they also held the first Pandemic Arts Exhibit to showcase the talent in the area. Endless Arts has since merged with Friends of the Arts and become its arts program committee. Noting the interest in summer art classes, we offered 5 art classes the summer of 2022. Our 2023 program expanded to offer 13 art, music and drama classes for all ages, interests and skill levels. One of our goals is to support and build the community of artists and those who enjoy making  art in Eagles Mere and Sullivan County. This year 80% of our teaching faculty are local.

Securing the Friends of the Arts’ Future

We believe the arts strengthen a community and are a vital part of life. EMFA could not exist without the generosity and loyalty of the entire community. As part of our mission to provide programs for all, many of programs are free and open to anyone. We rely on our members, grants and donors to keep our ticket prices as low as possible, so even if you don't come to any of our ticketed programs, your membership or donation benefits the entire community. We hope the community will continue to its part to keep the Friends of the Arts financially secure and here for many generations to come.