Construction is beginning in Norfolk’s Wards Corner of an $8.5 million cultural arts center whose 425-seat professional theater will be available to the community. Those involved with the project say, when completed in March, 2013, it will enhance revitalization in the area while promoting the arts, art education and youth creativity. Work on the Norfolk Collegiate School Center for the Arts begins Monday, December 5, 2011 at 10:15 a.m. with demolition of a former medical office and a house on Norfolk Collegiate School’s middle and upper campus at 7336 Granby St., Norfolk. The media are invited to cover the highly-visual demolition celebration, which will be attended by 400 students and teachers in hard hats. Members of the senior class will paint messages on the building before a power shovel excavator tears it down.
The Norfolk Collegiate School Center for the Arts will be a specially designed space where students will master communications skills in digital and traditional arts forms. It will house the school’s Communications Arts Center and related programming. Norfolk Collegiate’s communication arts program includes journalism, CAD, graphic design, filmmaking, videography and web development. Hollywood director and Norfolk Collegiate School graduate Gary Fleder, whose projects include the movies “The Express,” “Runaway Jury,” and “Kiss the Girls,” provided initial funding for programming and filmmaking equipment.
A two-story, 26,000 sq. ft. facility, the Norfolk Collegiate School Center for the Arts will encompass four classrooms, a chorus room, two seminar rooms, two galleries for exhibiting students’ work and a scene design shop. The facility’s centerpiece will be its professional theater, available for use by the community and the school. Paneled with natural oak on all four sides, the theater will include professional sound and rigging systems and four-location lighting technology. The two-story theater lobby, also lined with natural oak, can be used for receptions.
“This is an important step in the ongoing renaissance of Wards Corner,” said Norfolk Mayor Paul D. Fraim. “In offering a state-of-the-art venue for regional cultural events, Norfolk Collegiate School’s Center for the Arts will capture additional focus on the area as a destination, have a positive impact on restaurants in the area, and help define Wards Corner for the future. “
Establishment of the facility is also a milestone for Norfolk Collegiate School, according toNancy Corriveau, chair of the visual arts department in the middle and upper school.
“The arts enhance the ability of children to learn and provide critical skills and imagination that will serve them throughout life,” Corriveau said. “With the new Center for the Arts, we will be offering a model program of creative arts training for shaping global innovators and leaders of the future.”
Gary Bonnewell, chairman of Norfolk Collegiate School Board of Trustees, said: “We’re excited that this important project will have an impact on the region around us, help in Wards Corner revitalization and offer a superb performing arts venue, with all these things made possible by the generosity of our community.”
Scott Kennedy, headmaster of Norfolk Collegiate School, said: “Focusing the full breadth of our traditional and communication arts programs in one creative space will increase collaboration, community involvement and innovative program expansion.”
The project architect is Shriver and Holland Associates of Norfolk; Chesapeake’s Conrad Brothers, Inc. will handle construction.
Norfolk Collegiate School is an independent school serving 700 students K-12 on two campuses. The middle school and upper school are located on 7336 Granby St. The lower school is located on 5429 Tidewater Dr.