Does Ridgefield have too many arts venues? Zoning commission listens to question

With dozens of music venues, theaters, museums, and galleries, Ridgefield is an artsy town — but has the town hit its capacity for arts and leisure offerings?

That was a point Allison Stockel, executive director of the Ridgefield Playhouse made during a meeting hosted by the Planning and Zoning Commission April 2.

“I love the idea of second- and third-floor residential, I do not love the idea of building, building more,” said Stockel.

The meeting was the second in a series of three listening sessions organized by the commission to hear feedback from town organizations ahead of the rewrite of the town Plan of Conservation and Development.

“I’m one of those people that I just don’t believe more equals better; I feel the same way about the arts organizations — I feel that we as arts organizations right now are really teetering. If we bring anything else in, it’s going to skew it off balance,” said Stockel

Adding more would mean the existing arts organizations could “cannibalize” one another, she said.

“We all work really well together, we should not be having any more arts organizations in this town, because more doesn’t equal better — we’re going to cannibalize ourselves if we keep doing stuff like that.”

There are currently around 35 arts organizations and venues in Ridgefield, according to listings on the Ridgefield Arts Council’s website. 

Stockel said her current challenge is finding ways to bring more patrons into the town for daytime shows, given the success of evening events at the Playhouse.

She said the Playhouse draws in around 100,000 people annually, about 60 percent of whom are from out of town. 

“My personal feeling is we have great bones in this town, how do we make what we have work?” she said.

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