The Ashtabula Arts Center is a non-profit, multi-arts facility established to preserve and promote the arts through education and entertainment. We feature dance, theater, music and visual arts. Classes and performances or exhibits are held in each discipline.
Founded in 1953, the first Fine Arts Center was a house located on the corner of Rt. 20 and Lake Avenue (where the YMCA parking lot and outdoor playground is now). It was primarily used for music lessons and as a small art gallery. In 1968, the Fine Arts Center and the Ashtabula Playhouse merged to create what is now the Ashtabula Arts Center.
Two years later, the Civic Development Corporation (CDC) raised $85,000 toward purchasing the land on W. 13th Street and to plan the building of a new arts facility. By 1971, local contributions and pledges totaling $275,000 were made to the arts center by businesses, the Ashtabula Foundation, families, and individuals to make it a reality. Fred Toguchi was hired to design the new building. Sam Goldstein headed up the building committee, and Larry Hughes of Buckeye Builders was awarded the contract to do the construction. In 1973, our new facility was opened and the building was only as large as the front offices and gallery space.
In 1975, the Civic Development Corporation campaign raised $175,000 for the arts center to add a music wing onto the building. When originally constructed, no true performance space was part of the plans. The music wing added a recital hall and individual instruction studios and opened in 1977.
G.B. Repertory Theatre had been established to bring the theater experience to our audiences during the school year. The music wing's recital stage was adapted for its use. Tables and chairs were set up in the audience space with local companies, and individuals purchasing whole tables or seats at tables with their friends for the many outstanding shows produced there. The Good Life Singers, a community choral group, was founded in the mid-1970's and also performed regularly in the music wing. The arts center's very strong dance program was turning out students who went on to more advanced training and some even made dance their careers.
The next major area of development came with the addition of the theater wing in 1987. Due to a greater interest in theater throughout the area, it was eventually decided that a space needed to be built to specifically house the theater arts.
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