Sacred Heart University announced today that it will reopen the long-shuttered Community Theater in downtown Fairfield as the new Sacred Heart University Community Theater.
The University has signed a 10-year lease with Kleban Properties to create a premier arts and education site at the corner of Post and Unquowa Roads. Open to the entire Fairfield community, including all University students, the refurbished venue will provide a range of offerings, including high-profile lectures, author talks, unique films, concerts and performances. It will showcase the work of the University’s dance, orchestra, band, choir, theater arts, film students and more.
Preliminary plans call for a full-scale renovation of the former movie theater, which opened in 1920 and closed in 2011. The landmark theater will have at least 400 seats. Work should be completed in 2020, just in time for the theater’s 100th anniversary.
Kleban will renovate the theater to Sacred Heart’s specifications. “Once the renovations are complete, we will install the state-of-the-art equipment and accoutrements that have come to define Sacred Heart’s new and renovated spaces,” said Mike Kinney, senior vice president for finance at Sacred Heart.
“Kleban Properties will be looking to the town of Fairfield for assistance in various forms to ensure that this exciting opportunity becomes reality,” said Ken Kleban, president of Kleban Properties.
The theater will speak to the University’s core mission, providing a state-of-the-art space for academic exploration and experiential learning in the arts and humanities. Students will also be involved in the management of the site, gaining vital experience in operating an arts venue.
The venue will also contribute new activity into the heart of downtown Fairfield. “I am thrilled that the Community Theater, which has long been an iconic landmark in our town filled with special memories for so many of us, will finally be reopened,” said Fairfield First Selectman Mike Tetreau. “Thank you to Kleban Properties and Sacred Heart University for saving this historic gem that will add to the vibrancy of our downtown and help Fairfield’s arts and cultural scene continue to flourish.”
“This project is another example of how a University gives back to the community where it resides,” said SHU President John J. Petillo. “We plan to turn this into a contemporary venue for the University and the community while maintaining much of the classical features that have been part of downtown Fairfield for 100 years. That we can breathe new life into this building after years of dormancy is truly exciting.”