Niswonger Performing Arts Center operated by the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation

The dream of a performing arts center began in 2001 when the Van Wert City Schools received funding to build new educational facilities. The idea blossomed when Scott Niswonger, a 1965 graduate of Van Wert High School, challenged the community to dream bigger when he gave $2 million to the project of making a school auditorium into a regional performing arts center.

A $10-million-dollar facility opened thanks to The Van Wert County Foundation, Mr. Scott Niswonger, many businesses, and hundreds of individuals and organizations. The facility was then gifted debt-free to the Van Wert City Schools, who entered into a lease agreement with the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation, a supporting nonprofit corporation of The Van Wert County Foundation.

Most recently, The Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio (NPAC) has rebranded to provide entertainment opportunities in a multitude of venues. Van Wert Live, ran by The Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation, has been host to hundreds of professional performers, Broadway productions, national and international speakers, dance recitals, school concerts and productions, and many rentals.

Currently, the Van Wert Live hosts over a hundred concerts, shows, and events yearly in its 1,200 seat Van Wert County Foundation Saltzgaber Music Hall at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. It has indeed become the entertainment destination of Northwest Ohio and Northeast Indiana.

The Gaylord & Eliza Saltzgaber Music Fund

Established by Gaylord M. Saltzgaber (1846-1930)
Gaylord M. Saltzgaber was born in Richland County, Ohio.  At the start of the Civil War, he enlisted in the Third Ohio Volunteer Infantry.  Upon returning to Van Wert, he studied law and practiced for many years.  In 1876, he was elected a member of the Ohio State Senate where he served two terms. During his lifetime, Senator Saltzgaber was interested in music. His wife, Eliza was also active in music circles.

“I give, devise and bequeath my entire estate to be known as The Gaylord and Eliza Saltzgaber Music Fund to The Van Wert County Foundation as Trustee, in Trust nevertheless for the uses and purposes following:   To safely invest the capital of this Fund and to pay from the income thereof whatever is proper for the purpose of aiding and encouraging the production of good music, vocal and instrumental, for the people of the City of Van Wert, Ohio; to help especially among poor folks, any who show special talent, and to do any and all things to carry out the purposes of said trust.”

Gaylord Saltzgaber
Eliza Saltzgaber