PITTSBURG -- Pittsburg's Betty Brown has had a long love affair with the theater. As a teacher and counselor with the Pittsburg Unified School District in the 1960s, she saw a need to bring community theater to Pittsburg to help channel the creative talents for not only the young people that surrounded her in the school but also adults all around Pittsburg.
In 1973, she opened Pittsburg Community Theatre and has been working side by side with other local individuals ever since.
It is this kind of dedication to the Pittsburg community that influenced a group of Pittsburg volunteers to develop the Pittsburg Entertainment and Arts Hall of Fame and seek out nominees, including Brown.
"This is a long time coming," said Merl Craft, one of the organizers of the group. "We originally set out to find 15 local residents for this first year but wound up with 18 deserving people."
The intention in the first few years of the program, Craft explained, was to find 10 legend inductees and then five modern people. The inductees can be anyone from Pittsburg, alive or deceased, who has provided outstanding service to the community in the arts, music or theater.
Those chosen were nominated by a select group of local artists who were familiar with the city's arts and entertainment history. Next, finalists were picked by the members of the Pittsburg Entertainment and Arts Hall of Fame group. They will be honored at a program this fall.
"It is really a wonderful honor to be picked as one of first inductees," Brown said. "Every one of those people picked this first time are well-deserving."
Brown has been involved in more than 100 productions at the Pittsburg Community Theatre over the past several decades as an actor, director or producer. She is working as a director on yet another production called "Shakespeare Comes to Calamity Creek."
The last show of the production can be seen at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Creative Arts Building in Pittsburg.
Other inductees to the Hall of Fame include Norman Abercrombie Sr., the Rev. Isaiah and Geneva Brown, Joe Castro, Emilio Civita, Orrin Cross, Pete Escovedo, Clarence Fornwald. Gerald Glasper, Papa John Guerrero, Leola Jiles, Louis Jones, Chooch Lombardo, Ollie McClay, Dr. Ronald McDowell, Tom Nunnelly and Alice Jean Wilton.
"We have such a wide variety of inductees for this first time," Craft said. "Ranging from Emilio Civita, who was the leader of the Pittsburg Municipal Band from 1916 until his death in 1966, to Dr. Ronald McDowell, the internationally known artist who created the 90-foot frieze, 'A Symphony in Art,' in the Creative Arts Building."
"Pittsburg has produced so many outstanding artists in music, performance and fine arts that we wanted to recognize them," said Theresa Jones, chairwoman of the PEAHOF Hall of Fame Committee. "We want Pittsburg youth to recognize their heritage and realize they can also make contributions to the community through their art."
Winning entries in the competition are listed.