W . H . S .    A U D I T O R I U M   P I C T U R E   S T O R Y :   R E A D Y    F O R    I T S     C L O S E - U P !  
Did the project finish in time?  Yup!  "Curtain going up" happened on time/on budget - first redo of this space in 40 years!   Timing is everything!


What a difference a few days makes!!!   Read about WHS mural project here.   WestonArts spreads its wings!!!

"Hello, Dolly, well hello Dolly, it's so nice to have you back where you belong..."  could have been written about the Auditorium itself!!! 


Weston High School auditorium: Curtain goes up       
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly    
Wednesday, December 10, 2008 

When the curtain went up at the Weston High School auditorium on Tuesday night, Dec. 9, it was the end of an era — and the beginning of a new performing arts space in town.  The grand opening of the refurbished 600-seat auditorium marked the completion of the last piece of an $80-million school and athletic facilities building project that was approved by voters in 2001.

“I think it’s fabulous. We’ve got a first class facility,” said Weston First Selectman Woody Bliss.
Work on the 1960s-built auditorium, which started at the beginning of the summer, included gutting most of the space, adding air conditioning, duct work, replacing antiquated rigging, lighting work, refurbishing sound and lighting control rooms, rebuilding the orchestra pit, adding acoustical ceiling and wall panels, and stage floor and carpet replacement.

WestonArts, a non-profit group, raised more than $300,000 in private funds to help supplement the costs of the approximately $2.1-million auditorium project, specifically to replace the seats.

“WestonArts board members are overjoyed with the unveiling of the renovation of the Weston High School auditorium,” said Johanna Pfund, co-chairman of WestonArts. “The refurbished auditorium provides the citizens of Weston with an up-to-date performing arts space that supports the educational requirements of the schools’ outstanding performing arts programs, as well as an attractive and functional facility for town meetings.”

WestonArts

WestonArts formed in June 2005 to develop and promote the arts in Weston. Its impetus, however, was really the discovery by many arts lovers and parents that renovation of the high school auditorium was not included in the original school building project.

WestonArts has become for the school arts program what the Boosters Club is for school athletics — both a champion of arts programs in the community and a fund-raising organization.

And organize they have. In the three-plus years since its inception, WestonArts has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. The group has donated money for scholarships, grants, and equipment for the schools, such as a grand piano, and music and instrument storage.

But the completion of a refurbished auditorium has always been at the top of the group’s agenda.

Ms. Pfund said WestonArts “started out thinking we could do it all,” but members quickly realized it would take the entire community to make the project a reality. It was WestonArts’ pledge to raise the money to replace the auditorium’s aging seats that convinced many in town to allocate the rest of the money to re-do the space.

By April 2008, the group met its goal of raising $300,000 in a “seat campaign,” money earmarked to replace the auditorium seats.

“During the past three years, WestonArts has come to understand what an undertaking it is to bring a project such as the auditorium renovation to fruition, and it could never have happened without the undying support of the Board of Education, the Board of Selectmen, the dedicated Building Committee, generous donors, and the citizens of Weston who said ‘yes’ to a renovation in not just one, but two separate town meetings,” Ms. Pfund said.

Middle school bids too high

Refurbishing the high school auditorium was not originally a part of the building project. However, when bids for a planned new auditorium at Weston Middle School came in millions of dollars more than expected, the focus shifted to making improvements to the existing high school performance space instead.

In addition to the money raised by WestonArts, the money to pay for the project comes from several different sources. Money that was originally bonded to build the middle school auditorium was “transferred” to pay for the high school roof replacement and auditorium renovation.

After the roof was completed, about $1.2 million was left to apply toward the auditorium; at a special town meeting June 11 of this year, voters approved an additional $586,585 appropriation from the general fund; and there was money left in a capital account for the roof replacement that was applied toward the auditorium.

Ms. Pfund credits the Building Committee, which has overseen the auditorium project from day one, with its ultimate success.

The Building Committee “has had such dedication to the project, [WestonArts] really just kept our eye on the ball,” Ms. Pfund said. “They are the unsung heroes of this town... without them, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Joe Fitzpatrick, chairman of the Building Committee, returned the compliment.

“This was a real collaboration of many groups,” he said, especially singling out WestonArts. “If they didn’t step up to the plate, this whole thing wouldn’t have happened. It just shows that, when we all work together, and everyone cooperates, we can get things done wth very little fuss or problems.”

Mr. Fitzpatrick said the most challenging aspect of the auditorium project was keeping track of the “long-lead” items, things that had to be planned and designed and ordered well in advance, such as the rigging, the stage extension, curtain, and the seat fabric.

“It was important to get these things done early,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said, adding that when it came down to the wire, the contractors — and there were several — stepped up to the plate and made it happen.

“Everybody’s been waiting a long time for this,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said. “I’m sure they’ll be happy with it.”

For Ms. Pfund, the auditorium is just right.

“It’s beautiful, but it’s not an extravagant, costly place. It’s really appropriate. It needed to be taken care of,” Ms. Pfund said. “The original idea was to build a new performing arts center at the middle school, but this solution was really most cost effective for the town. We took a facility we already had and made it much more functional and it also looks better. Every one should be really proud.” 


BUILDING COMMITTEE MEETING DECEMBER 3, 2008:  Will the concert take place at the auditorium in less than a week?  Take our tour below!




BEGINS AT  TOWN HALL...AND ENDS UP AT WESTON HIGH SCHOOL - "ABOUT TOWN" CAMERAPHONE PIX !


BUILDING COMMITTEE MEETING OCTOBER 29, 2008:  HOW IS THE PROJECT DOING?
 
It is getting pretty exciting seeing the progress on the auditorium redo project!   From the stage and its new rigging to the exit doors, to the wood  panel walls now blonde...


the back of the auditorium and the two lighting booths, and the inevitable junk that a construction site creates.  Wheelbarrow evidence that lots of work is going on!


Stairway to the stars - note the area where decorative lighting will be added last or almost last...Building Committee members check things out on stage.


"ABOUT TOWN" MEETING NOTES HERE.
New rigging and control rooms have been installed in the auditorium at Weston High School, which still awaits seating, acoustical panels and flooring. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of November. —Kimberly Donnelly photo


Weston auditorium work is on track       
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly    
Thursday, October 23, 2008 

Right now, Weston High School’s theater space is pretty much just that — space.

But, said Joe Fitzpatrick, chairman of the Building Committee overseeing the high school auditorium renovation, everything is on track to be completed before the holidays.

“We’re pushing to get it done by the end of November,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said last week.

The auditorium is essentially empty (no seats, carpet, ceiling tiles, wall coverings, and not much of a stage), but looks can be deceiving, Mr. Fitzpatrick said.

“They’ve gotten an incredible amount of work done,” he said of the contractor, Carlson.

The electrical rigging used to move sets on stage, which replaces an old weight/counterweight rigging system, has been installed. School staff was being trained in its use last week.

Lighting and sound control rooms at the back of the auditorium are finished, air conditioning has been installed, and duct work and the mechanical systems are complete.

Wall panels have been affixed to the sides of the room, which are ready to accept acoustical treatments that will capture and dampen sound. “At the appropriate time, we can just stick the panels on,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said.

Trim work on the front of the stage began last week. The floor of the stage will be put down last, after most of the other work — especially overhead work — is done.

The old seats have been removed and new seating is supposed to arrive at the end of this month, Mr. Fitzpatrick said.

“There have been no major hang-ups,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said. “We’re still within budget, and we’ve had no issues with noise or dust ... These guys have been great.” 


OCT. 1, 2008 MEETING MOVED TO TOWN HALL COMMISSION ROOM:  AT THIS POINT, IT IS NOT SAFE TO HOLD MEETINGS ON THE STAGE, BECAUSE RIGGING IS GOING IN, LIGHTING FOR SEATS,, NEW FABRIC ON ORDER, ETC. - AND ROOF ADJUSTMENT TO BE DONE, IT WAS NOTED, MUST HAVE OK OF SILKTOWN/MANUFACTURER TO NOT VIOLATE WHS NEW ROOF GUARANTEE.  See regular building committee page for meeting notes.

Building/School Building Committee special meeting September 17, 2008 began by having to find a way into the high school...


Soccer game going on under the lights (and the lights along School Road as designed by the School Building Committee work and do their job beautifully)!


It pretty much looked the same as last meeting, but contracts have been finalized for rigging, chair detail (to be double checked) and report on change orders so far (keeping a close eye on these);


Committee architects consulting on shade of stain...

later, design/functional detail choice made preliminarily.  Next meeting on October 1st.



Building/School Building Committee special meeting  September 3, 2008...


All the actors in this drama on stage:  the Building/School Building Committee;  architect, engineer, auditorium design specialists and construction manager - Town Administrator on top of things, taking notes, Weston Arts "in the audience" (and "About Town" taking the pictures).


The history of Company and the students and productions recorded on the backstage walls - remember the car from "Grease?"  I thinks is was the winner of the prize for "Best Float" in the Memorial Day Parade!


NO SEATING YET - PICTURE 599 RED VELVET-LIKE  CHAIRS...
In this sketch you can see the two control booths in the rear, new baseboards for floor and THE PLAN!

Building/School Building Committee special meeting August 27, 2008:


Some missing answers to questions about deadlines, which are to be supplied in another special meeting next week...