Art groups and other supporters of Northampton Community Arts Trust’The s building has been preparing to begin a new round of fundraising which aims to complete the last – and biggest – performance space in the center of Hawley Street.
What is called The [email protected] is a 3,800 square foot area designed to accommodate theatre, dance, film and other performances, with a flexible design that will accommodate approximately 200 people. Fundraiser organizers say $400,000 is needed to cover heating, ventilation and air conditioning, acoustic walls, electrical work and subfloor construction to allow artists full access to The area.
Additionally, the arts center is asking for an additional $100,000 to build a suspended floor for the space to make it more durable and dance-friendly. This part of the project is designed to honor the late Nancy Stark Smith of Northampton, an acclaimed dance artist and teacher who was a leader in contact improvisation, a form of contemporary dance. Stark Smith died in May at the age of 68.
In total, organizers hope to raise a total of $600,000 for the Workroom space
The Arts Trust building, where renovations to what had been a fitness center began in 2013, has since opened a range of rooms and spaces, including a dance studio, performance space and smaller “flex” event halls, work rooms and galleries for visual art. The completion of The [email protected] “will be the final piece of the puzzle”, said Lisa Thompson, director of APE gallery in Northampton and [email protected]
[email protected] will indeed handle the programming and management of the Workroom space in the future, and the organization is also overseeing the fundraising campaign. APE has already produced a number of dance performances at the Arts Trust building in the small Flex space in recent years in conjunction with Northampton’s School for Contemporary Dance & Thought.
The Arts Trust recently received its fourth matching grant (for $100,000) from the Mass Cultural Council Cultural Facilities Fund, which has boosted the new fundraising campaign for The Workroom space. The total cost of completing the Arts Trust building has been pegged at around $6.4 million.
“We really want to have full access to this space,” said Thompson, who noted that with the uncertain duration of the pandemic, the workroom will allow events with safe social distancing for audience members and performers. . “It’s essential for current and next generation artists and for the range of events we would like to present there.”
Arts Trust officials note that the unfinished area has been made available during the pandemic for artist residencies, with garage doors on one side kept open for ventilation.
Meanwhile, dance teacher and choreographer Andrea Olsen, who is helping with the suspended floor fundraising effort, says the surface is necessary for safety and longevity – a “warm, clean floor that gives you helps avoid hip replacements, knee injuries, spine injuries, short careers… Let’s build a floor that’s good for dancing!
On another note, Thompson says she’s encouraged by the state’s recent decision to allow concert halls and other performance spaces to reopen with a capacity of up to 50% or 250 people, depending on the lowest number. “That should give us a bit more flexibility in event planning,” she said.
One such event that [email protected] is presenting is a solo piece, “The Fever,” by Wallace Shawn, from October 31 through November 31. 1. The play, in which the anonymous narrator visits a poor country and witnesses violence and political persecution from his hotel window, will be performed by Peter B. Schmitz; it is directed by John Hellweg.
The APE says more details on this “in-person, capacity-limited, socially distant performance” are pending.
To donate to the Northampton Community Arts Trust to help complete construction of the Workroom space, visit apearts.org/events—projects.html and click on the appropriate links.