Adams Selectmen Happy With Topia Arts Center ProgressBy Andy McKeever
11:21PM / Wednesday, July 13, 2011
ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen raved about the progress of the Topia Arts Center after an hour-long visit Wednesday.
The theater's General Manager Daniel Frederick explained the massive renovations the group needs to make before the theater is operational.
"It is the cleanest and nicest I've seen it," Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington said. "It's really cool to see a project like that."
The nonprofit group, Topia Arts Center Inc., had been leasing the building since 2005 and have been upgrading the former movie theater on Park Street into a performance space. By gathering volunteers, raising some money and donations, the theater has begun to take shape.
The leaders of the project took the board on a tour Wednesday and asked for the town's support in applying for a $50,000 state grant to help develop a plan for stability.
"We're anxious, we're ready to move forward," Mary Ann McSweeney, chairwoman of the center's board of directors, said. "We're trying to get a marketing and fiscal plan."
So far, the group has rebuilt the center's stage, decorated the walls, installed more than 200 seats, installed lighting and added a projector screen. Yet, there are still some major, immediate needs to be addressed before the center is complete.
General Manager Daniel Frederick led the tour and pointed to three major needs: fixing a leaky roof, adding bathrooms and adding a heating and cooling system. The leaks in the roof have already caused damaged to the projection screen, he said.
"We need the heat and air conditioning to be a true four-season theater," Frederick said.
When the group first bought the building it dreamed of $5 million dollars' worth of renovations, but practicality stepped in the way. The group began removing unnecessary items – such as a second-floor balcony – from the plan and is instead focusing on getting the space renovated just enough to be fully operational.
"We pared things off that would be really nice," Frederick said. "We were able to bring it down to $1.5 million."
Board member Paula Melville was the first to sign a wooden plank in support of the theater that will hang as decor once the theater is in full operation.
The group is hoping to get renovation money from federal and state grants, but while the group works toward that end, the space can still host events.
Recently, Berkshire Creative held a networking event in the building and in July a theater group will be having performances.
In the end the group wants the interior to have a "rustic" feel, and to host a variety of events from private companies having meetings to theatrical performances to movies, with local non-profit groups paying a cheaper rental rate.
"We want it to be a community space," Kurt Kolok, a member of the board of directors said. "We will have things that everybody can enjoy."
The board members were impressed by the progress, and in a sign of support signed a wooden plank that will be used as decoration when the renovations are complete.