SCHENECTADY — “You should know that as of five o’clock last night there were still lights and speakers still being hung,” said Proctors CEO Philip Morris at a Wednesday morning press conference to announce the opening of the Adeline Graham Theatrical Training and Innovation Center on Nov. 29. “In fact, you might even smell the dust burning off of the LEDs.”
Named after the philanthropist and longtime supporter of Proctors Theatre, the third floor space of the complex now houses a 100-seat theatre, multi-use classrooms, a media lab, a dance studio and a variety of amenities Proctors expects will serve more than 500 students and 10,000 patrons annually.
“There is nothing for us as exciting as opening The Addy,” said Morris. “This is as laser focused as our mission gets — bringing together education, entertainment and economic development in one ‘wow’ package. We are beyond proud.”
The Addy is already in use by the Empire State Youth Orchestra’s CHIME program, serving 60 musicians from local elementary and middle schools. But, in January, The School of the Performing Arts at Proctors will host more than 200 students in weekly classes, including the middle school-based Acting Academy and the high school-oriented TheatreTECH.
Built as part of a larger capital campaign, the $2.2 million project was supported by grants from Empire State Development and the Capital Region Economic Development Council, Schenectady County, Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority and the Wright Family Foundation.
“Philanthropy was such an important part of Adeline’s life,” said her niece, Heather Ward, now chair of The Wright Family Foundation, Inc. “She shared this passion with so many organizations, and she dedicated so much of her time and energy to Proctors because she really understood the importance of education, training and community education through the arts.”
With the Workforce Development Institute and TheatreTECH, The Addy will provide participants apprenticeship programs, training and certification that will allow them to work in a variety of performing arts careers. The performance space will also add another distinct venue to Proctors—serving as art house cinema, concert hall and theatrical stage.
“Any time you are willing to affect youth, you have an opportunity to change the world,” said Arnold Will, deputy regional director of Empire State Development. “In this case here, it’s really what we’re doing. We’re glad to be a part of taking a vacant facility, renovating it, being a part of the revitalization of downtown Schenectady, and we wish our continued support for Philip and continued success of this project.”
Ray Gillen, chair of Metroplex, said the new creativity hub should only help Schenectady as a whole, as it adds another venue to attract visitors to the city.
“This new venue completes the renovation of the cherished Carl Company, one of the last undeveloped spaces on State Street,” he said. “The third floor now features performing and exhibit space, including a versatile 100-seat theatre that will draw more people to downtown Schenectady.”
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.