CNY Community Arts Center working to complete remaining projects

By MIKE LEBOEUF editor@fultonvalleynews.com

 Buzzing with performances, classes, and other activities since opening in February of this year, the new CNY Community Arts Center in Fulton promises even greater community involvement once the rest of the work on the building is completed.

“We would really like to be able to do our grand opening in September,” said Nancy Fox, the center’s executive director. “I think when we finish (the main) floor with all the fancy things, the art and the doors and the floors … people are really going to be blown away by what we have here to work with.”

Located in downtown Fulton at 121 Cayuga St. — the former Herron’s Fabric Store — the CNY Community Arts Center opened just prior to the production of “Little Women” in mid-February. Prior to making the move to the current location, the center’s activities had been held at other sites.

Now in the midst of its eighth year, the CNY Arts Center started out being housed at State Street Methodist Church in Fulton. Classes were held in the basement and theater productions were held in their dining hall. After that, the center shifted its operations to Cayuga Community College. The space offered a 200-seat theater, but it didn’t have classrooms.

While Fox said the center was grateful for the use of those places, there was the hope that a permanent home could be found in which to house the entire program including theatrical and musical performances, art classes, and other activities.

Last year, the center purchased the downtown building. Fulton Savings Bank led the way with a significant donation to help secure the property. They received a $110,000 grant from the Shineman Foundation, and others came on board to help including Pathfinder Bank, Community Bank, National Grid, Huhtamaki, and other businesses and individuals.

CNY Arts Center signed on the property in June at a purchase price of $80,000. That was just the beginning of the financial commitment, because much work was needed in terms of code compliance, handicap accessibility, and fire safety to get everything ready to open to the public. Renovations began in August, and the main work was completed in time to open for “Little Women” in February.

Now, work continues to put the finishing touches on the center in anticipation of a grand-opening celebration.

The next big project is the installation of the wheelchair lift. Fox said that could be ready by the end of this week.

Once that is completed, new vinyl flooring will be put in.

“We have purchased the floor, but we wanted to wait until the wheelchair construction was finished because that’s quite messy. As soon as that’s finished we will be laying the new floor in the downstairs and upstairs as well,” Fox said.

She said that the Sunrise Rotary Club in Fulton is covering the cost of the arching system that will allow art to be hung so art exhibits can be held.

Also, the new theater doors provided by the Noon Rotary Club in Fulton need to be installed. They are heavy doors and require special hinges, she said.

As for the 100-seat theater, it’s practically completed and has already hosted several events.

“We’ve been very busy in here. We’ve already started a full roster of programming. It’s been nonstop since ‘Little Women’ opened in February. We did ‘Beauty and the Beast Jr.’ and a lot of people came to see that. We just had the Tony Monaco Trio, Jazz in the House. The house was just rocking,” Fox said.

As part of a state grant, the center will be getting some hearing-assist devices for those who can benefit from them. “It’s a very intimate theater and it’s not an issue usually, but the music can be loud. We’ll get those devices. I’m hoping that’s here by December. Then this room will essentially be finished just as we get ready to launch our 2020 season,” Fox said.

The center is preparing for its next play, “Once Upon A Mattress,” set for Aug. 2-4 and Aug. 9-11. After those performances are done, another project will begin.

“Part of the state grant was for new LED stage lights. Those will be going in the day after ‘Mattress’ closes,” Fox said. “It’s too close to the start of ‘Mattress’ to do it now and get everybody trained on how to use them. As soon as ‘Mattress’ is over, the old lights will come down and the new lights will be installed. We can’t wait to get our hands on that system and train on them. There are so many things you can do with that.”

Classrooms will be almost completely done once the new flooring is installed. One classroom still needs a sink to be installed, Fox said. All the bathrooms are done.

The biggest project left on the main floor is the kitchen.

“We’re just waiting to work out all the details on some funding sources. We need to do some fundraising toward that. We can move forward on parts of the project,” Fox said.

The biggest chunk of the expense is equipment she said.

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Shelley LewisComment