JANESVILLE—At a time when arts programs are among the first funding cuts in tight school budgets, groups remain that consider spending on creativity a necessary investment in the future.

At the Janesville Performing Arts Center, officials are pouring an estimated $300,000 into a new education and outreach space they plan to use as an incubator for local youth theater and musical efforts.

JPAC Executive Director Nathan Burkart views the new space as something sorely needed. He reasons JPAC’s annual attendance has grown from about 17,000 patrons in 2016 to nearly 28,000 this year, and much of that increase has come from a burgeoning youth population.