The historical gem that is the performing arts center at Fort Hill Apartments is getting a face-lift, now that renovations are underway on the 1928 Canandaigua Academy annex auditorium.
When complete, the Sands Constellation Theatre, which is now owned by Fort Hill Performing Arts Center Inc., will become a new 419-seat commercial theater and visual and performing arts center in the Finger Lakes. The venue will support the arts communities for the greater Canandaigua and Ontario County and Monroe County areas.
To date, $5 million has been raised from various sources for the project and a recent ground-breaking ceremony kicks off the second phase of the fundraising campaign for the outfitting and first-year operating expenses, expected to total $800,000.
The second phase of the campaign will focus on gifts from community individuals, businesses and Canandaigua Academy alumni, many who have fond memories of this beautiful historic theater and building.
Gordon Estey, president of the board of directors of the Fort Hill Performing Arts Center Inc., thanked the Sands family and Constellation Brands for their major support of the project. He expressed gratitude to the hundreds of individual donors for their financial gifts that have made the renovations and refurbishment of the facility possible. Estey also thanked Conifer Realty LLC, developer, owner and manager of the apartments and former owner of the theater, and Project Director Michael Birkby and his team at Conifer for their hundreds of hours spent on putting together the financing, directing the project, and for supporting and helping make this dream come true.
Holger Stave, executive director of the center, has set up temporary offices at Parkside Drive, along with Operations Manager Sueann Townsend, who is organizing the business startup and bookings for the 2020 opening season.