Redhouse Arts Center: Future Community Art Center of Syracuse

After a three-year preparation, Redhouse is now working on fund-raising to get ready for its expand mission to Downtown Syracuse.

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Redhouse Arts Center at Armory Square plans to move to downtown Syracuse. Photo courtesy Jiamin Jiang

Ruobing Li

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If you are a theater lover and you plan to spend one night at the Redhouse Arts Center during Thanksgiving break, you will probably worry about its limited parking availability. However, you can expect a significant change at Redhouse next Thanksgiving.

The lobby of Redhouse Arts Center at Armory Square

The lobby of Redhouse Arts Center at Armory Square

After three years of preparation, Redhouse is now working on fundraising to get ready for its expansion mission in Downtown Syracuse. A private fundraising party will be held later this month, according to Stephen Svoboda, the executive artistic director of Redhouse.

“We are working to raise 5 million and [we] have raised 2 million so far,” said Svoboda. “We have a couple of big grants that will end this month. So we should have around 3 million.”

After raising the first $2 million from donors throughout the community to get the expansion project started, Redhouse is now working on state foundations, which are state, regional grants, and private fundraising parties that collect a big chunk of money Redhouse needs. A crowd-sourced fundraising campaign will also be held next spring where Redhouse will get 80 percent of its fund raised, according to Svoboda.

Presently, Redhouse has only one theater with 89 seats in its tiny place at Armory Square. After moving to the former Sibley’s department store in Downtown Syracuse and renaming to Redhouse @ City Center, it will have a 400-seat flexible-space theater, a 100-seat traditional proscenium space, a 60-seat flexible lab theater, two independent/foreign movie theaters with seating for 115 or 45. Three rehearsal rooms and three classrooms will also be added.

The new facilities will also include back-end support spaces including dressing rooms for three theaters, two scene shops, costume shops, office space and residential space that can accommodate up to 18 artists.

Although the new place for Redhouse will be 48,000 square feet, it has no plan to expand programs.

“We have already done so much,” Svoboda said. “Our goal is to increase the number of people who can participate in what we do, instead of increasing the number of shows.”

Apart from accommodating its own programs and productions, Redhouse will also rent space to other cultural organizations and work with them. Art groups throughout Central New York can use the space year round and they can have shows there. Redhouse will help them sell tickets and lend a hand to their marketing.

“We want to make it a true community art center. Different groups of [the] community can get access to the space.” said Svoboda.

As part of redevelopment of Sibley’s department store, the expansion of Redhouse benefits the citizens of Syracuse. People will get easy access to various entertainment including theater productions, movies, music shows, dance performance, parking spots, restaurants and retail stores in the same building. The new Redhouse will also connect with the Landmark Theater, where each theater plans to support the other. A new Culture District will be formed and more people will be driven to Downtown Syracuse, which will transform the abandoned district into an alive and exciting place.

Svoboda said they will work with architects and theater consultants from New York City on the reconstruction of the former Sibley’s department store in December. For now, they will stay at Armory Square till next November.