8 things to know as weekly Chateau Theater previews begin Thursday – Reuters
ROCHESTER — The doors of the historic Chateau Theater will open to the public on Thursday for the first time since Threshold Arts signed a three-year operating agreement with the city.
“I know people are excited to start seeing things happen here,” Threshold founding director Naura Anderson said of the city-owned Peace Plaza building.
The building is largely as it was left when Exhibits Development Group and the city prematurely ended their 2019 operating agreement a year ago, following struggles over COVID restrictions.
Anderson said some elements, including a divider between the planned retail space and the performance space, will remain, but changes are being sought to improve performance options and provide room for a variety of uses.
“Our goal is to keep everything here as flexible as possible,” she said.
Although the castle is not yet open daily, Anderson said the goal is to have the gates open weekly on Thursdays downtown to preview the work being done.
Here are some things to know about the plans:
1. Retail space will emerge as Downtown Thursdays continue.
Threshold Arts will eventually feature items from local artists in a retail space in the front part of the castle.
Anderson said the space, along with the community gathering space, should be ready for regular activity in mid-July, meaning weekly visitors will be able to see it unfold with a unique behind-the-scenes look at the development.
2. Public information is sought.
While several planned uses are already underway, Anderson said the first opening on Thursday will be an opportunity for residents to share their ideas for future activities.
She said the first week will be an open day, with art activities and posters allowing people to share their ideas about what is needed at the Chateau.
“We don’t want to miss something that community members feel they need,” she said.
3. The past will be celebrated.
In addition to looking for ideas for the future, Anderson said Thursday’s events will include an option to share stories from the past.
“There’s such a story in this building, and so many people have stories about it,” she said of the building which was built in 1927 as a vaudeville theater and cinema.
She said personal stories and the history of the building should be featured throughout Threshold’s operations.
4. This is an opportunity to meet the Threshold team.
Anderson said three core staff will be on hand Thursdays to discuss plans for the castle, and more staff are expected to be added as work towards full-scale operations begins.
5. Volunteers are needed.
In addition to staff, Anderson said Threshold Arts is looking for volunteers to be ambassadors for the castle, providing visitors with information about the building, as well as the town and local activities.
“We want people who can provide that concierge-like experience,” she said.
As well as supporting the community effort, she said volunteers will help keep the castle open to the public for more hours throughout the week.
6. Artistic pop-up events are already happening.
Members of Threshold periodically set up shop in front of the Chateau Theater, and Anderson said they would continue to do so.
She said it was an opportunity to engage visitors and others, as well as raise awareness of what will be happening at the Chateau.
7. Reservations are set for October.
Activity inside the castle will largely depend on a variety of planned upgrades, from renovated bathrooms to improved acoustics.
Although some impromptu activities may take place earlier, Anderson said the first bookings are scheduled for October.
“A number of community groups are starting to plan,” she said, adding that announcements for some events are expected to come soon.
8. The grand opening is scheduled for November.
While doors are expected to be open regularly in July, Anderson said a grand opening of the Chateau Theater as part of Operation Threshold Arts is tentatively scheduled for November.
She said the goal was to match the timing of some additional Peace Plaza upgrades.