The Fairfield Theatre Company is branching out. The nonprofit will open a second performance space in downtown Fairfield next to its StageOne Theatre at 70 Sanford Street. The new theater will be three times larger than StageOne and located in the warehouse next door.
FTC Executive Director, John Reid, described the plan for the new site.
“My vision is to create a world-class performance space that’s easily accessible to the public with expanded programs,” Mr. Reid said.
The new facility will be built in the 8000-sq.-ft. redesigned and retrofitted warehouse next door to the StageOne Theatre; it will be called The Warehouse at FTC.
StageOne Theatre seats 225 people; The Warehouse at FTC will seat 640 people. Mr. Reid said the main reason the theater obtained use of the warehouse from the town of Fairfield was to create a medium-size venue, something it’s been lacking in the area.
The Fairfield Theatre Company already programs for the Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport that seats 1,4500 people as well as for the Norwalk Concert Hall, which seats 1,000 people. Certain acts, however, needed a venue larger than the StageOne Theatre, but not as large as the other facilities, so the new space will be planned as that happy medium.
Mr. Reid also said the company wanted to meet the demands of patrons.
“We asked patrons what they wanted, and they said more music, more films, and more art,” Mr. Reid said.
The new space, located near the train station, will host theater, film, and music concerts. Besides more artists and performers, the site will have cultural, corporate and fund-raising events, along with business expos, fairs and private parties.
With more artists, productions, and performances, the surrounding businesses community such as shops and restaurants will benefit economically, said Mr. Reid, and he sees Fairfield’s tax base eventually boosted as businesses reap the rewards of the new venue attracting more people to the community to the area.
The Fairfield Theatre Company has begun renovations of the warehouse. The structural elements were already in place, so the work is on the infrastructure: a sprinkler for fire suppression, as well as heat and air conditioning.
When completed, Mr. Reid said, The Warehouse at FTC will have second floor mezzanine seats, flexible seating, and state-of-the art sound and lighting, all while retaining the warehouse’s early mid-century industrial look.
To build the grand dream, the Fairfield Theatre Company started a capital campaign last September with a goal of raising $1.5 million; organizers are now nearing that goal but still actively soliciting donations from fans who have enjoyed the venue and support the goal of a bigger yet still intimate space.
Mr. Reid said he is grateful for all the donations already made and noted that the FTC board of directors has collectively donated $700,000. Funds have also come from the Founders Circle donor group, corporate donors and matching grants, individual donations, patron donations, and donations received from the public through an online crowd-funding campaign. The State of Connecticut also provided support.
There have been in-kind donations as well. Architect Michael Smith and acoustic engineer Jaffe Holden worked on the new space and Security Solutions has donated time and labor to develop a fire and security plan. Coastal Construction has donated services as general contractors.
Mr. Reid said the Fairfield Theatre Company makes it a point to give back to the community as well, hosting fund-raisers for other non-profits and assisting with promotion and the box office at these events.
Mr. Reid said although there is still a way to go to on the warehouse and still more funds to needed to complete the project, the generous response from the community has been encouraging.
“ I think overall the community has demonstrated goodwill by coming together donating money, time, labor and support,” Mr. Reid said.
The Fairfield Theatre Company is planning the grand opening of The Warehouse at FTC by next fall, when it will open with a large celebration and a concert to thank the community for their support.
For more information or to make donations to the The Warehouse at FTC campaign, visit fairfieldtheatre.org.