Last week we noted the 23 characteristics of a vibrant and healthy arts scene, as formulated by Renny Pritikin. Today we’ll start the first in a series identifying some ideas to enhance the vibrancy of the Farmington/Farmington Hills arts scene.
BUILDING A PERFORMING ARTS SPACE
The most complex, expensive, and time-consuming addition (but perhaps the most impactful in the long-term) to a vibrant and healthy arts scene in Farmington and Farmington Hills would be to provide the community with a high-quality performing arts center, much like the Village Theater in Canton* (pictured here), to include a 400-seat theater, art exhibition space, and headquarters for area arts organizations.
A performing arts space like this could be built on the space currently occupied by the Maxfield Training Center and be part of a mixed-use development overlooking Shiawassee Park in downtown Farmington
The theater could be used for local theatrical and dance productions, presentations by area musical groups, screenings of independent and foreign films, lectures and community discussions, and for bringing in productions by talented artists and musicians from across the state (such as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra), country, and the world.
It would make sense for the cities of Farmington and Farmington Hills to partner on getting a facility built in downtown Farmington. Residents in Farmington Hills have consistently ranked the addition of a performing arts space high among the needs for our community as part of the recent Parks and Recreation Master Plans (including the 2014 plan). This would be a win-win for both cities and provide downtown restaurants and shops with additional customers coming into town for a performance.
Rather than build something near the Costick Center (and make driving a necessity) this facility could enhance the walkability of the downtown area and be built on the northeast corner of the space currently occupied by the Maxfield Training Center in downtown Farmington. One could easily imagine a theater atrium overlooking, and opening up to a new and more accessible path (for pedestrians and cyclists) down to Shiawassee Park.
In addition, this performing arts space could provide the cornerstone for a beautiful mixed-used development including condos or apartments along the north side, with great views overlooking Shiawassee Park, and a mix of retail and restaurants along Thomas Street.
Yes, it could be done … with a mix of public and private investment and the commitment of our residents and artistic community.
What do you think of this idea? Interested in making it happen? If so, we’d love to hear from you.
* Canton is nearly the size of Farmington Hills (in terms of population) and the community there was able to raise $5 million to build the approximately 400-seat Village Theater in 2004. The theater is home to nearly a dozen Canton-area arts organizations and has a very robust performance schedule.