A new theater opens in Canandaigua this weekend and its backers hope it fills a vital need in the local arts community.
It’s called the Sands Constellation Theatre, and it’s part of the Fort Hill Performing Arts Center on Fort Hill Avenue.
The theater dates back to the 1920s, and it is the former Canandaigua Academy School auditorium.
The niche that people like Executive Director of Fort Hill, Sueann Townsend says the venue will fill, is for performances that work best for a mid-sized theater. It will have 427-seats, which Townsend says is smaller than many of the other performance spaces in the Canandaigua area and in Rochester. And she says another advantage is that it will be used year-round.
“Most of what we have here in Canandaigua proper, CMAC, a number of the music festivals are very seasonal and we will in fact be 12 months out of the year,” Townsend said.
Townsend says the nearly $5 million project kept the historic features of the theater, while providing modern amenities including better accessibility.
“It is pretty much the equivalent size on the stage and the capacity on the stage of a standard Broadway house so we have quite a good technical capacity,” Townsend said.
The theater project was financed through sources that include state funding and private donations.
The financing includes $2 million from New York State Homes and Community Renewal through its Rural and Urban Community Investment Fund Program; and $1.3 million in federal and state historic tax credit equity provided by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Additional financing includes a Theater Equity Contribution of $1.5 million and private equity raised by the Fort Hill Preservation.
Townsend says the new Sands Constellation theater will serve a number of groups including the Rochester City Ballet, Rochester Oratorio Society, Bristol Valley Theater and a number of others.