Editor’s note: The story has been updated to include the correct annual budget of $80,000 for Onstage Theater.
The president of the well-known Onstage Theater urged the city council to consider a proposal for the performing arts venue to move to the historic Old Bedford School.
The council did not make any decisions Tuesday night, but heard from Onstage and other nonprofits, including the Trinity Arts Guild, to assist them in finding locations as construction is starting next year on a complete makeover of the Boys Ranch Park.
The arts groups are in buildings at the park that don’t meet city code.
The project to rebuild the park calls for a multigenerational building, ballfields and aquatics.
“We are asking you to make a decision quickly because quite frankly, Onstage is running out of time,” said Mike Hathaway, president of the Onstage board.
Onstage has a $80,000 budget, and relies on volunteers with the exception of the art director who earns $400 a month. The community theater pays $14,000 a year for water and electricity.
“We can’t just go out and rent a space” he said.
Hathaway called for the council to look at a proposal to use bond funds already designated for the arts to renovate the second floor of the Old Bedford School so the stage can be used for plays and other productions.
Currently, the stage is designed for piano and dance recitals.
Previously, the city discussed building a performance art center behind the Old Bedford School and eventually connecting the two buildings, and Hathaway suggested forming a partnership with Bedford to put on a summer musical and other performances.
“This would be a new vision for the Old Bedford School,” he said.
Onstage wouldn’t have to find a temporary location.
The city council has discussed at length the future and the importance of performing arts in Bedford.
In June, the council called for plans to renovate the school for $5.5 million and to complete the Boys Ranch Park makeover for $64.5 million that will be done in one phase.