The need for a performing arts center at ConVal High School
For nearly fifty years, since ConVal High School opened its doors in 1970 without a performance venue, student musicians have had to perform in the school’s gym. Seating options for the audience are bleachers or metal folding chairs on a flat floor. It is a space that is acoustically and technically unsuitable for musical performance. ‘Making do’ in the gym “limits the possibilities and achievements of our students,” says Krystal Morin, Choral Music teacher at ConVal. “It’s time that they have a space that will enhance their work and expand our opportunities for creativity and collaboration,” adds Morin.
The high school’s planners also left out a theatre for dramatic arts. By necessity, a lecture hall was converted into a theatre, and was later named for Lucy Hurlin, a talented ConVal actress who died in a car accident in 1979. The Lucy Hurlin Theatre lacks a backstage, orchestra pit, wings, storage space, and proper lighting, acoustics, and HVAC. With only 200 seats, and a small stage, the theatre cannot accommodate large theatrical productions or musical programs.
Resource for Local Arts Organizations
Many local arts organizations have expressed support and need for this facility. In 2014, twenty organizations replied to a survey issued by ConVal VPAC regarding need for local arts facilities. Responses came from Francestown, Greenfield, Hancock, Keene, Peterborough, Nashua, and Wilton. In 2017, ConVal VPAC held two arts forums at which a variety of local arts organizations expressed their ideas on performance space, and details of both their met and unmet needs. Through these outreach efforts, ConVal VPAC discovered interest in the following potential uses of a new performance facility:
- Dance recitals
- Plays or Musicals
Excellent acoustics are cited as one of the most sought-after but least available technical assets in existing venues.
Arts & Culture In Peterborough and the Monadnock Region: Past and Future
The Peterborough Master Plan (The Plan), chapter “Cultural Resources,” acknowledges that although Peterborough is recognized as the “educational, cultural and economic hub for all the towns between the Monadnock peaks,” it is still necessary and valuable to continue strengthening arts opportunities and connections within Peterborough and surrounding towns.