A New Performing Arts Center in Downtown Waco? Your input is requested.

Press Release

The Waco Auditorium brought internationally renowned performing artists to Waco in the 1920’s. Is it time for a new Performing Arts Center in downtown Waco?

WACO, TX (January 9, 2020) – The City of Waco, with input from Creative Waco, has engaged Keen Independent Research to examine the feasibility of creating a center for performing arts in Downtown Waco. This study requires a thorough exploration of the market for arts in the region, needs of local organizations, operating/capital costs and revenue potential, operating models, potential synergies and collaboration between organizations, components of a potential multipurpose facility, and a plan for implementation.

 To best serve the Waco community, the feasibility study welcomes rigorous public participation. Keen Independent requests that residents from Waco and its surrounding communities complete a virtual workshop. The virtual workshop takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete and a direct link is available here until January 31st, 2020.

Keen Independent also invites you to participate in an open house where you can meet with study team consultants, learn more about the project and share your insights. This open house on January 13 will be hosted at The Cooper House, 1801 Austin Ave., and will go from 6:15pm to 7:15pm.

If you are unable to participate in the virtual workshop or open house, Keen Independent encourages interested participants to reach out to the study hotline at 254-307-2669 or email WacoArtsStudy@keenindependent.com.

For more information about this feasibility study, visit the Keen Independent website. Keen Independent is a national research firm with expertise in arts and culture. Alex Keen, Keen Independent COO and Senior Consultant is leading the study. Keen Independent is joined by Victor Gotesman Performing Arts Facilities Planning, Theatre Consultants Collaborative and Venue.

Q&A with the MCC Cosmetology Department

By Stacy Burger

Laura Hays, program director of the Cosmetology Department at McLennan Community College, answered our questions about this department and this exciting career path.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. 

Tell us about the MCC Cosmetology Department generally.

The MCC Cosmetology Department began in the late 1970s. The department is a training facility which teaches all aspects of the industry, including all hair-related skills, manicuring, pedicuring, skin care and business-related skills. Our students schedule is Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and currently takes about 16 months to complete.  

We also offer an Esthetician Program which is a specialty course that teaches only the skin care aspect.   

In addition, we serve the community through our full-service MCC Salon and Spa.

What services does the Cosmetology department offer?

We offer facials, waxing, lash and brow tinting, haircuts, manicures, pedicures, haircuts, clipper cutting, hairstyling, perms, relaxers, braiding, hair color, highlighting, etc.

We teach a diversity of hair textures and styling to our students, which enables them to be skillful with all types of hair.

The program offers two specialized certifications. Can you explain what those are?

The Cosmetology certification allows a person to practice and perform all aspects of the industry.

The Esthetician certification allows a person to only practice and perform skin care related skills and waxing services. I am currently the program director of cosmetology, but I also teach the esthetician program as well.

Both programs have a state examination upon successful completion of the courses, which include a written and practical exam. Those who pass are issued a license by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. I am happy to share that for many years we have had a 100% pass rate!

What does the application and admissions process look like? 

A prospective student is asked to come by the Cosmetology Department, located at 4601 North 19th Street in the Community Service Center, Building B, to fill out an application. We like this personal approach to be able to answer questions and give the person a tour of the facility.

A reading assessment is required due because of the requirement for passing the state written examination. We choose our students by this score. If a candidate scores lower than the minimum score, we offer a reading support class through MCC’s Adult Education and Learning Department at no charge to the candidate. Upon successful completion of this class, and if space is available, the candidate may enroll. If space is not available in the current enrollment, the candidate is guaranteed a place in the next enrollment. This has proven to be a hugely successful practice for all candidates to be able to enroll with the support for success.

Once accepted in the Cosmetology Program, the students will follow the College procedures for admittance.

We receive over 100 applications every semester!

What have customers said about the salon and spa at MCC?

We are told we are the best kept secret in Waco!

Tell us about one thing you try to focus on with your students in the department.   

This is an easy one to answer: professionalism! There is a lot of great talent that unfortunately doesn’t get utilized due to a lack of professionalism. A percentage of a student’s grade is based on professionalism.

Appearance, grammar, customer service, communication, cell phone etiquette, etc. are all areas of importance to our instruction.                              

Visit www.mclennan.edu/cosmetology for more information about the program and salon services.


Stacy Burger is a Marketing and Communications Intern at McLennan Community College. She is a senior at Baylor University studying Marketing & Public Relations and hopes to work in sports or entertainment. As a Colorado native, she enjoys all things outdoors.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.orgfor more information.

Prosper Waco Hires Ferrell Foster as Content Specialist for Care and Communication

Prosper Waco is pleased to announce the hiring of Ferrell Foster as content specialist for care and communication. In this role, Foster will develop, coordinate and execute projects and initiatives that advance benchmark indicators in health for Prosper Waco. He will also implement a network of partnerships to build and strengthen a continuum of care for behavioral health services in Waco while also creating communication plans and coordinating communications projects.

“The best opportunities in life are those you feel drawn to out of your core principles,” Foster said. “I feel this draw to the work of Prosper Waco because of my desire to serve people and their communities, especially those facing serious challenges.”

Foster added that he counts it a great privilege to join Suzii Paynter March, the Prosper Waco staff, and leaders of the Waco community in the important work they are doing. “I’m especially excited about the collaborative nature of Prosper Waco,” he explained. “Communities do not successfully address difficult issues without both leadership and collaboration; I see both of these at work in Waco and in Prosper Waco.”

Foster has professional experience in managing projects and institutional relationships through his work the past 10 years with the Christian Life Commission in Austin. His CLC work has required him to work in a variety of cooperative partnerships related to ethics, justice, human care, and public policy. He has also spearheaded the CLC’s new efforts regarding mental health.

Prior to his work with the CLC, Foster served as managing editor of a daily newspaper, public relations director for a graduate school, and director of communications for statewide organizations in Illinois and Texas. He holds degrees in journalism, political science, and biblical studies. His doctorate from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene focused on justice issues, specifically on African American perspectives.

“An important part of my work with Prosper Waco will be in facilitating collaboration around mental health. This is important to me both personally and professionally,” Foster stated. “I am thankful to be able to come alongside those in Waco who are already working on mental health and be of service to them.”

Prosper Waco is a collective impact initiative focused on addressing issues facing the Greater Waco community in the areas of education, health and financial security. As a facilitator and convener, Prosper Waco encourages collaboration amongst existing nonprofits, city and county governments, businesses, foundations and churches to build on and increase the effectiveness of current efforts and develop new strategies to bring about measurable and sustainable positive change within the focus areas for the members of our community. For more information, please contact Allison@prosperwaco.org.