Frequently Asked Questions
The Performing Arts Center Steering Committee met with the architects through the spring of 2019 to gather input for the design of the exterior of the building. The meetings were open to the public with several people attending each – public input was sought and welcomed during all the meetings. The architects provided about a dozen examples of performing arts centers across the US of the same approximate size as a starting point to gather both positive and negative feedback on each.
It was agreed that the center should not be just a brick building relying on a large sign that tells what it is – the building itself should be contextual – demonstrating that today it is a place where people gather for exciting entertainment, and that people on the street should be able to see activity inside – eliciting the desire to com in themselves. The architects went through three iterations before the exterior was approved.
The last iteration included adjustments to make it fit into its surroundings. The exterior surface is mainly gray in color reflecting the gray limestone of Surf next door, the bank across West Pearl Street, and the granite lintels on the widows in the back section of the center. The paint color on the interior walls showing through the windows mirrors the red brick of the back section of the center. The horizontal elements and the height of the roof are aligned with those of the back section, and the terrace is aligned with Surf.
The Performing Arts Center will have 750 seats. Approximately 400 of those will be telescopic seats on the main level with 350 more in the balcony. This main level will be able to accommodate 1,000 people standing and 250 with 10-person round tables and chairs.
These comfortable seats, akin to those found in a Broadway theater, retract into closed storage so that the main level of the theater can accommodate many kinds of events and functions: examples include concerts, weddings, dance recitals, and corporate annual meetings.
The City of Nashua has issued a $15.5 million bond. The City is seeking New Market Tax Credits. These are federal tax credits purchased by private corporations. There is a $2.5 million capital campaign being conducted by a private committee of volunteers.
Funds secured via both New Market Tax Credits and the capital campaign are considered private funds. In total an estimated $6.2 million in private funds will go to the project.
The contractor, Harvey Construction, has already drawn up a schedule of permits and approvals required for construction. No variances are needed.
The map of parking identifies many more than 750 parking spaces within a three-to-five-minute walk of the Performing Arts Centers. Studies also show that patrons of performing arts center events are comfortable parking a five-to-ten-minute walk from a venue because they are making an evening of it by both dining and attending. Other well-known and successful performing arts center venues in the state are in downtowns and do not have dedicated parking: The Palace Theater and SNHU Center in Manchester, The Capital Center for the Arts in Concord; and, The Music Hall in Portsmouth.
The Nashua Performing Arts Center will contract Spectacle Management, an experienced and respected arts venue operator, to run all aspects of the operation. From marketing to booking to hiring and managing staff to taking out the garbage, Spectacle will be responsible for every single aspect of the operations.
The City of Nashua contracted Webb Management Services to conduct a market feasibility study in 2017. The study showed that a venue of 750 seats has a strong market and financially sustainable. Larger than that, the market could not support it; smaller, it could not attract the kinds of acts envisioned and so would not be financially sustainable. Spectacle Management has signed on as the operator. Spectacle is a privately owned company that has evaluated the market and the proposed venue and has signed on to operate it because it knows it will earn a profit doing so.
The flexibility of the Nashua Performing Arts Center means that all kinds of acts will be offered. Spectacle Management operates seven venues in Massachusetts, including the Lowell Memorial Arts Center, the Shalin Liu Performing Arts Center in Rockport, the Larcom Theater in Beverly, Cary Memorial Hall in Lexington, and Plymouth Memorial Hall. Spectacle will be able to attract high-quality, nationally touring acts because it can offer them multiple night bookings with these venues. Acts can range from Melissa Ethridge, The Wallflowers, Chris Isaak, to comedians, dance troupes, or the Vienna Boys Choir. To see real-time examples of the kinds of performances the Nashua Performing Arts Center will attract, visit the websites of these other venues.
Spectacle Management estimates between 130 and 200 days of use per year, attracting 70,000 people to Nashua’s downtown by year three of operations. The flexibility of the space is key to this high usage rate. It will be able to host a small theater-in-the-round performance one night, a nonprofit organization’s annual meeting the next, and a nationally touring musician the next.