Sandwich Superintendent Looks To Turn High School Auditorium Into Performing Arts Center
By: James Kinsella
Schools superintendent C. Richard Canfield has proposed using the high school auditorium to create a Sandwich Performing Arts Center.
Dr. Canfield said the creation of such a center, complete with the appointment of an artistic director/general manager, would serve to improve the facility, generate revenue for the district, provide a venue for non-school productions and attract people to town who might spend some of their money at local business before or after a performance.
The superintendent made the proposal at Wednesday’s school committee meeting, which was held at the high school television studio.
“We need new revenue sources as a district,” Dr. Canfield said.
“In examining district assets, we realize that we have a fabulous 970-seat auditorium and theater complex that is in close proximity to Exit 3 on the Mid-Cape Highway and close to the Sagamore Bridge,” the superintendent said in a written report accompanying his remarks.
The auditorium, he said, also is fully air conditioned. And plenty of parking is available.
In light of the facility’s potential, Dr. Canfield said, his goal is to work with interested residents to create “the Sandwich Performing Arts Center.”
So far, the superintendent said, he has reached out to four people about the idea. He said he wants to increase that number “and tap into the expertise that can make this dream a reality.”
At Wednesday night’s school committee meeting, which was televised live by Sandwich Community Television, he encouraged people interested in working on the creation of the arts center to call him at his office: 508-888-1054, extension 11.
Dr. Canfield declined yesterday to identify the four people with whom he already has discussed the proposed center. When the group grows to the point where it is ready to start meeting, he said, he would identify everyone involved.
The superintendent said the group also will be reaching out to those in the arts community who the group believes “can bring special knowledge and skills to this endeavor.”
In creating the center, the school would take steps to make overdue improvements in the facility’s sound and lighting. The school also would address carpeting, seating and technical features at the facility.
The idea, Dr. Canfield said, is not only to create a place of which the town can be proud, but to draw people to Sandwich for a variety of different performances.
The superintendent anticipates that at least some of those people will shop in the town’s stores, eat in its restaurants, and stay overnight in its accommodations.
Student use of the facility, which is part of the high school, would have priority, Dr. Canfield said.
But the superintendent said creating the center would improve the facility for productions by the high school’s Blue Knights Theater Company.
Dr. Canfield further said that the center also would tie in with the visual and performing arts studies that will be part of the school’s pending Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Academy at the high school.
Commonly referred to as STEM, the academy will educate all 7th and 8th grade students enrolled in the Sandwich public schools. STEM, which is scheduled to open next September, will be located in the “A” wing of the high school.
Dr. Canfield said outside productions that use the performing arts center will generate revenue for the school which can be used to better maintain the facility.
He said that, in turn, will lessen the burden on the taxpayers.
“The local community helps us,” Dr. Canfield said at Wednesday’s meeting. “Let’s help them back.”
The superintendent said the high school’s auditorium contains certain technical advantages, such as a
catwalk, that can accommodate a broader artistic range.
“We can do some very sophisticated productions,” Dr. Canfield said.
Bringing in an artistic director/general manager, meanwhile, would give the facility control over how outside groups use the center, and ensure that those groups do not cause havoc by taking matters such as lighting into their own hands.
Dr. Canfield further said that the facility’s proximity to the Sagamore Bridge and even the Bourne Bridge can serve to draw off-Cape residents to productions at the center.
Performing arts, he said, fits “very nicely” with Cape Cod.