Ready to Rock
The Warehouse @FTC
While it’ll be a terrific space for musical acts, the Warehouse will also host theater and film events.
Photo by Michael Smith Architects
This September, the Fairfield Theatre Company opens The Warehouse, a 640-seat performing arts venue adjacent to StageOne on Sanford Street. “The Warehouse fills a gap in our programming in terms of the size of the venue,” says John Reid, producing artistic director and executive director at FTC.
“We currently produce over 200 concerts a year in three venues—StageOne at 225 capacity, the Norwalk Concert Hall, with a thousand seats, and The Klein Auditorium in Bridgeport with 1,450 seats,” he explains. The reclaimed space will be what Director of Development, Joe Rog, calls a “sweet spot” between the other venues, designed to attract a wider variety of artists, and also wider audiences.
The concept for The Warehouse was always part of FTC’s vision. In 2004, when they moved their operations out of Fairfield University’s Quick Center into the current building, the huge space was one of the main draws of that particular location. “At the time there just wasn’t enough money to build it out,” explains Rog.
Ten years later, a capital campaign to fund the expansion initiative was launched, and renovations began shortly thereafter. In keeping with its roots as a machine shop, manufacturing facility, and later a storage building, designers from Michael Smith Architects worked hard to retain the post-industrial, warehouse feel.
The 8,000-square-foot space features an open ceiling with exposed steel beams, industrial-style lighting, and cement flooring, giving it a mid-century look. The main floor has a full-service bar and configurable seating to accommodate a wide variety of programming. A mezzanine lines the back and side walls, and includes both casual seating and a second, full-service bar. By incorporating a catering kitchen, The Warehouse can also accommodate large parties, weddings, community events, and fundraising galas.
The $1.5-million project was fully funded by state grants, private foundations, fundraising events, and individual donations that ranged from $10 to $10,000. “We couldn’t have done this project without the support of the town,” says Rog.
He refers to the partnership between the town and FTC as a “community cooperative,” where the town is “fully incentivized to support us” since it gets a percentage of the ticket sales. FTC is a not-for-profit organization which is on town-owned property, but rather than using taxpayer money, it actually generates money for Fairfield.
According to Reid, the budget earmarked a full third of the funds to be used for state-of-the-art sound, lighting, and acoustics. “We wanted to equip the space so it would be a world-class music venue,” he says. “We’re talking to a broad variety of artists in many genres, including blues, rock, reggae, folk, indie, alt-country, Americana, hip hop, funk, soul, jazz, punk, new wave, etc.,” he continues. “Having the new venue will also allow us to increase other programming that we currently do, including theater, film, visual arts, and cultural events.”
“FTC is an iconic place for Fairfield which draws people from all over,” says Rog. “The Warehouse will bring in a whole other range of artists.”
With a “soft launch” scheduled for September, and the Grand Opening event in October, it’s sure to add a brand new vibe to Fairfield Center.