Fairfield Theater Co. to expand with classrooms, rehearsal space using now vacant second floor
FAIRFIELD — You will soon be able to add The Loft to the ever-expanding space of Fairfield Theatre Company at 70 Sanford St.
The FTC is home to StageOne, an intimate 225-seat venue, and the larger Warehouse, which has the capacity for up to 640 seats.
The music venue will use almost $500,000 raised from private donations and a recently approved $950,000 state Urban Act program grant to finish the work of creating music classrooms, rehearsal space and offices on the town-owned building’s second floor.
“The funds will allow us to
complete long-needed interior and exterior improvements and renovations throughout the FTC campus,” John Reid, executive director, said. “The work is already well underway, and we expect to complete this final phase of the overall FTC campus improvement by the fall of 2018.”
Reid said they were able to get started on the work prior to receiving the state grant because of donations from almost 1,100 individuals over the past year.
Kristina Newman-Scott, executive director of the state Office of the Arts, helped to shepherd the funding through the state Bond Commission approval process.
“I know what the need is out there,” Newman-Scott said, “and the organizations that are doing the work that needs those funds.”
Larger organizations, like the Connecticut Science Museum, may have an easier time attracting the needed funding, Newman-Scott said, while smaller groups may not be on the radar.
“It’s a fantastic space,” she said. “It’s so easy to get to, it’s right there at the train station.” Newman-Scott cited studies that show that for every $1 spent on the arts, you get $7 in return, and said having facilities like the FTC “is the kind of thing that makes people want to stay in the community. ... Culture is a thing that connects us all.”
The state funding will go toward the actual construction costs and are provided on a reimbursement basis. One condition of the grant is that the recipient cannot relocate out of state for 10 years.
Economic Development Director Mark Barnhart said the announcement of the grant was terrific news and well deserved. “FTC has been a vital partner in helping create a more vibrant and dynamic downtown, attracting thousands of visitors each year and generating millions in economic activity to bolster the local economy,” Barnhart said. “I’m sure these factors weighed heavily — and appropriately — in the state’s decision.”
Reid said the work on The Loft will add classrooms and rehearsal rooms, expand and improve the green rooms and dressing rooms, replace the old covered bridge that leads to the building from Unquowa Road, repair and repaint the exterior where needed and improve the grounds to allow for better use of the outdoor space.
Additional office space will also be created, which Reid said will allow some staff that currently work off-site because of a lack of space to return.
“We are especially thankful for the support of our delegation, who continue to advocate on behalf of FTC and the community, encouraging the growth and expansion of the arts and culture in Fairfield County,” Reid said.
FTC first started in 2001, on the campus of Fairfield University, and moved to Sanford Street in 2004. Initially, the focus was Broadway theater, but eventually, it transitioned to a live music venue at StageOne.
The Warehouse was opened in 2015, and FTC presents over 400 concerts and programs between the two spaces.