The Smith Baker Center becomes a Community Performing Arts Center
This building is already owned by the city and is in grave need of roof repairs before the leaks do any further structural damage to the inside of the gorgeous craftsmanship of this building. It's an amazing acoustic space, thought by many in the city to be one of the finest acoustic spaces in the area, partially due to a unique grooved ceiling that allows the sound to only reverberate in necessary areas. The current seating has allegedly accommodated former Parker Lectures, New England Orchestra Performances, Community Theatre Productions, and even a national touring Cambodian Opera. The Lowell Plan showed me that they had created a vision for this space, but I have yet to see any financial backing or successful partnerships happen for this space.
The wood seating needs to be removed and updated for modern accessibility. The theatre seats and pews, which are uniquely curved, handcrafted, and made from gorgeous woods, could be auctioned off to providing funding for updating the seating options. There's a beautiful set of organ pipes which I've been told are disconnected and is likely to be worth more sold as parts to get a new sound system, than repaired. Youth Build could invest time and energy into cleaning the place up and helping with some of the repairs that they are capable of doing. Music Business students at UMass Lowell could invest time in creating feasibility studies for the usage and marketability of the space and maybe even take on event management internships of the space with a dedicated managing supervisor. The UMass Lowell Off Broadway Players are also an amazing college student run and managed group that are quickly outgrowing their 500 seat Comley-Lane Theatre, and would make fabulous use of the opportunities afforded by a more inviting, innovative, and publicly available space.
The former classrooms on the lower level under the stage area could be outfitted for sound insulation and used as private music teaching rooms rentable by the hour and the larger community music/theatre rehearsal space could be used for rehearsals to save energy when the larger space isn't needed. It might be an ideal place for cabaret performances, like those put on by The Miracle Providers Northeast and for film screenings, like those put on by Lowell Film Collaborative.
The larger space is ideal for folk and acoustic performances which would allow the Lowell Summer Music Series to become a year round folk music series and a place to hear local bands without needing to buy a beer or be 21+.
If you're interested in learning more about the opportunities involved with this space, please contact paul_marion @ uml.edu or lznunn @ lowellma.gov