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Herald & Review/Lisa Morrison Decatur Park Singer and Young Park Singer entertain crowds at an outdoor performance.

DECATUR — The Decatur Park District announced Friday it would discontinue the Decatur Park Singers and Young Park Singers programs, citing declining audiences and rising costs.

District officials said the decision would allow the district to develop new arts offerings, including other programs for teens and an expanded Sounds of Summer concert series.

The park singers program, established in 1971, brought college-age performers together in a singing and dancing group that performed around the city and state.

Park district officials said the group has not been traveling as much in recent years, as venues that previously hosted them either could not attract crowds or could no longer afford the group. Additionally, summer concerts throughout the Decatur parks have not attracted the large audiences they once did, said Becky Newton, the park district’s director of recreation and facilities.

“We were finding the audiences were often the same people from park to park and week to week,” she said. “We really feel that with the money that was supporting the Decatur Park Singers, we will be able to do some really awesome local arts programming that affects a much wider audience.”

Park district Executive Director Bill Clevenger said he anticipated that the public’s reaction might include disappointment.

“There’s an emotional attachment to it and we understand that,” he said. “But I think as we look to the future and look toward creating opportunities for our local kids and the kinds of things they like to do and entertainment they like today, new opportunities emerge.”

This story will be updated.

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Regional Editor

Regional editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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