Construction begins on new arts center at Liberty Station
Ideas and work on the project actually began a couple years before the pandemic.
"The first thing we did was a needs and use assessment several years ago to see if there was a need," explained NTC Foundation president and CEO Lisa Johnson. "If we built a performing arts center, would people come and use it? And overwhelmingly, we found out there was a huge need for small and mid-sized performing arts groups of all types to have a place to perform."
The ceremony today celebrated the renovation and adaptive reuse of historic Naval Building 178 in the center of the arts district in Liberty Station. At more than 40,000 square feet, it is the largest project NTC Foundation has tackled. Today also marks the launch of the project’s community fundraising campaign. Currently, the project is at 73% of its $43.5 million fundraising goal.
In 2022, the NTC Foundation and Cygnet Theatre announced their partnership, which will restore historic elements of the building’s exterior facade, as well as integrate two state-of-the-art theaters.
This will be Cygnet's third home. The theater company is currently working out of a theater in Old Town where parking is often difficult. Sean Murray, artistic director of Cygnet Theatre, is excited about the new larger space with ample parking for patrons.
"It is a fantastic feeling," Murray said. "This is a performing arts complex. It's two theaters located inside the building, a large 289 seat house and 150 seat round studio theater. Our rehearsal space will also be located here, plus costume shops, wig and makeup shop, dressing rooms to accommodate cast for both theaters. We also have intentions that this theater will also become a possible home for small theaters that don't have their own permanent spot."
What is also exciting for Murray is that he has been involved in the project from the ground level and has been able to ensure that the new facility will have everything a modern theater company needs.
"We started this project before the COVID, the Great Plague," Murray said. "So part of the discussions during that period was about how do we make sure this building is a healthy, safe building going on in the long term? And so we've included a number of things regarding air circulation. So there's been a lot of thought about how to make the building something that would be in it for the long term."
Murray also got to reveal the nickname for the theater, it will be called "The Joan," in honor of its patron Joan Jacobs. The center is scheduled to open in the spring of 2025.