Venable Theater Renovations to be Completed for Fall Student Return

June 29, 2021

NORTH ADAMS, MASS.—MCLA’s Venable Theater is now poised to offer students an improved hands-on experience to hone their craft thanks to renovations made possible by the Jane & Jack Fitzpatrick Trust. Funds provided by the Trust, totaling $100,000, were used to replace seating and improve lighting in the theater, home to the College’s Theatre Program. The renovations also expanded accessibility through the demolition and renovation of restrooms to make them Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant, and the installation of an interior platform for ADA seating which includes rails, doors, and a lobby counter.  

Students return in-person this fall and will be able to begin working immediately on the College’s 2021-2022 Theatre Season. “The changes to the theater will provide students with the opportunity to work with the most up-to-date lighting technology in the field,” said Jeremy Winchester, chair of MCLA’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts. “Since theatre is so reliant on entertainment technology, this will give our students a substantial competitive advantage as they enter the workforce. The new seating and lobby are also now fully accessible to people with all levels of mobility needs, ensuring that all students and community members who would like to come to the theater can do so can in comfort and inclusion.” 

Winchester partnered with colleagues Lynette Bond, director of development for grants and research; William Norcross, purchasing manager; and Robert Fortini, maintenance working foreman, to prepare the funding proposal, design and implement the lighting system upgrades, select the new seats, and design the new seating and lobby layout. 

“The Jane & Jack Fitzpatrick Trust was pleased to help with seating and lighting improvements at Venable Theater to support MCLA’s Performing Arts Program,” said Trustee Tamara Stevens of the Jane & Jack Fitzpatrick Trust. “We think a renovated space will generate energy and enthusiasm for current and future students.”  

MCLA and the Theatre Department thank The Jane & Jack Fitzpatrick Trust for their invaluable contribution and involvement in this project. A plaque recognizing the Trust’s contribution to the renovation will be installed in the vestibule of the theater.  

Additional funding to support this renovation included $200,000 from the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance: Small Capital Repair Program and $6,000 from the MCLA Facilities department for funding of the engineering studies.