Exciting things are happening this winter at SArC!

People warned me that winter in Sandisfield can be challenging. Temperatures hovering in the 20s, snow piling up and ice covering the roads. Too much time indoors with not enough to do. I wish!

With so much happening at the Arts Center, this winter may not be long enough.

At Last, the handicap lift and vestibule

Following the award of a Massachusetts Cultural Council grant, the Arts Center Board started fundraising to install a handicap lift and vestibule. Thanks to some very generous patrons and local Cultural Councils, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve reached our goal and construction is now underway.

You’ve Talked, We’ve Listened

Through the process of raising funds for the lift and vestibule, we spoke to a number of local residents. And, we listened.

The one constant theme was ”the pews”. They are such an integral part of our historic church, and yet admittedly, they’re not very comfortable. We hear complaints all of the time, and even the most stoic soul can’t sit through a performance without fidgeting. The seats are narrow and the backs are straight, but they have a rich sense of history and we are very grateful to the wonderful families who sponsored these pews in our early days.

So, after years of discussion, consultations with the Massachusetts Historic Commission and with our architect Nick Elton, the Arts Center Board has reached a compromise.

With great deliberation and respect, we have decided to remove the center pews and store them in the attic, replacing them with more comfortable chairs. A beautiful display is being created to honor the families who sponsored these pews. The side pews will stay, although they’ll be moveable to increase flexibility, and they’ll be refurbished for comfort. This will provide the flexibility to use the upstairs for dancing, dinners or receptions. This seems to be a good solution for all involved, and acceptable to the Massachusetts Historic Commission.

Now normally we’d determine costs, raise the funds and then move forward. However, deferred maintenance on our antique wood floors is forcing the issue. Patched together over the years, there are sections of our wood flooring that are very soft and spongy, no longer safe. Without a subfloor underneath, stepping through the weakened floor could cause serious injury. It’s happened once and we were lucky. While we could patch the floor again, we believe that it’s time to do it properly. So between existing and reclaimed wood, we’re completely redoing the upstairs floor. And of course, that requires removing the pews.

Through a combination of grants, fund raising and careful management of existing Art Center funds, we are able to go ahead with the expense of the new lift, the vestibule and repairing the floor and refurbishing the pews. We will need help with the cost of buying quality chairs that will be in the region of $12,000.

If you can help, we’d be grateful…and you’ll be much more comfortable!

The season ahead!

Finally, the Programming Committee has completed their work, a new website is underway and we’ll be announcing our FY13 season shortly. Tickets will be available on line along with updates on our construction.

And, we will be holding a ceremony to unveil our new vestibule, lift and floor…and perhaps we’ll have some chairs to show off as well!

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