ANCRAM – Reflecting its growth as a regional creative hub serving the Hudson Valley, Berkshires and Litchfield County, Ancram Opera House is taking on the new name of Ancram Center for the Arts.
The announcement was made November 25 by Ancram Opera House Co-Directors Paul Ricciardi and Jeffrey Mousseau and Board President Cathy Redlich at a Community Open House attended by area residents, supporters, and staff.
“The evolution of Ancram Opera House from when it re-opened its doors eight years ago to today has been nothing short of astounding,” said Redlich in her remarks to the standing-room-only crowd. “Paul and Jeff’s vision was never just about producing theater; it was about creating a space where storytelling in all its forms – from plays to music to personal narratives – could enrich and connect a community. As it has grown, Ancram Opera House’s offerings to the public have kept pace, with free workshops, programs, and events. The new name, Ancram Center for the Arts, not only captures the breadth, depth and creativity of its diverse programs but also serves as an umbrella for the center’s future growth.”
Explaining the new name Mousseau said, in a press release, “The change aligns our identity more closely with our vibrant array of performances and community events. Our new campus will comprise the existing Ancram Opera House building, with accessibility upgrades, and a recently acquired neighboring house, built in the 1780s, that we’re calling The Annex. Once rehabilitated, The Annex will provide much-needed space to house interns and guest artists, as well as space for the community programs that are core to our vision.”
The Annex community room will also be put to use for storytelling workshops Ricciardi created for 4th, 5th, and 6th graders at Taconic Hills Elementary, which have been part of the school’s curriculum since 2020. Taconic Hills teachers and administrators have hailed the workshops as having an “extraordinary impact” on students. In addition, The Annex will provide space for workshops in playwriting and storytelling for adult audiences, who have expressed interest in exploring creative expression and connecting with others.
Work has already begun to improve accessibility: office space off the theater lobby has been converted into an accessible restroom while also expanding the size of the lobby and adding much-needed storage space. Next up is construction of permanent ramping to the theater’s front porch and entrance. Other improvements will include parking upgrades and a covered porch between the two buildings.
Ancram Center for the Arts presents award-winning contemporary theater, music, storytelling, and community arts programs. Central to its activities is the development of work created by nationally recognized theater artists. Performances take place in an historic grange hall; an adjacent property, under renovation, will provide space for Ancram Center’s expanding community classes, workshops and artist residencies. Ancram Center receives significant annual support from the New York State Council on the Arts and in 2023 was awarded a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information visit www.ancramcenter.org.