I’m reaching out to you today because many of you had voted for the Memorial Boulevard School to become a Performing Arts Centre. And now there’s some exciting news we’d like to share that could help turn the beloved Boulevard School into your desire for it and so much more, but we need your support to make it happen.
Here’s the scoop. Since the Boulevard has gone offline as a school the City responded by putting out an RFP for anyone who has legitimate plans for the building. The Chambers of Commerce responded with a proposal that we feel speaks to the heart of what you all voted for via BristolRising.com, and was a plan largely inspired by your voting and support through Bristol Rising (great job Risers!). The plan’s crown jewel is the use of the theatre, utilizing it in it’s near existing state immediately (with some upgrades), and raising capital over time to upgrade it to regional theatre standards.
In the remaining spaces and classrooms there is the opportunity for further theatre and arts uses from a black box theatre, to rehearsal spaces, set making, artist studios etc. Because of the Chambers business nature, another strong component of the plan is launching a business incubator / accelerator program geared toward tech, biotech, and creative companies, alongside leasing to established creative companies and potential educational uses. These revenues streams would subsidize building costs, and help negate the bill the taxpayers would foot for the school should it remain unused, with the goal being to make the building cash flow positive in several years time.
As you know, losing the school and that historic theatre would be a travesty for the community. On the flip side, it would be a boon
to the existing/expanding arts element in Bristol should we get the theatre, arts, and business uses roaring. The idea of turning the Boulevard into a Performing Arts Theatre was always a top desire for Bristolites and Risers since the get go. Now we have a plan to get behind that reflects our desire, but we need your support to make it a reality.
What we hope from you is to gain your support by attending a special Real Estate Committee public hearing this Monday (Oct 1) at 6 pm. The Chambers of Commerce will provide a detailed presentation on how they plan to use the building so you can hear all about it yourself.
We feel it is incredibly important to show our support in numbers at this meeting to provide at least a visual statement that there is support for using the Boulevard as a Performing Arts Center. Bring your orange Bristol Rising shirt (we have extras if you don’t have one), and let’s show the City that we don’t want this building to lay fallow, but to be used for its greatest potential for the city and downtown revitalization – and that’s arts.
We hope to see you there! (feel free to let me know if you’re coming, and spread the word to other supporters)
“Performing Arts Centre” is currently the 3rd most popular idea on BristolRising.com among 180 ideas.