Performing arts spaces: School upgrades could attract outside groups

Investing in school performing art spaces could attract more performers in town — and retain local groups that have begun to seek venues outside of Ridgefield.

That was the idea proposed to the Economic and Community Development Commission (ECDC) at its Feb. 4 meeting.

“The space is so limited, they’re looking outside of Ridgefield,” said Jennifer DiLaura, of the Ridgefield Arts Council. “The goal here is to make the space that we have as usable as possible.”

DiLaura suggested that if the schools’ performing art spaces are improved, music, dance, and theater groups might want to rent the space for their performances. Those include local groups, like the Ridgefield Symphony, Ridgefield Chorale and the Conservatory of Dance, as well as outside groups, like the WestConn Youth Orchestra.

“There’s a need in town to upgrade the arts spaces,” said ECDC member Karen Sulzinsky.

Sulzinsky said that the next step will be to have a theater consultant take a tour of the spaces at the schools with Joe Morits, the district facilities manager, “to get his input on, if there were budget, what should be done?”

“The big obstacle is the funds to make these improvements?” asked Chairman Arnold Light.

“Right,” said DiLaura, “there might be private money that’s interested in this.”

“There is a different requirement for symphony than there is for a choral group,” DiLaura added.

She pointed out that the Clune Auditorium at Wilton High School was built with a mix of private funds and money from the town.

“There’s a value for the students and a value for the town,” she said. “We want to show the town that these groups should be valued, and we should be providing them with the space not just for the kids but for the community — because they do so much.”

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